Takeaways: Iowa State falls 73-64 to West Virginia

Bridget Carleton looks to pass the ball at the game against Texas on Jan. 12. The Cyclones lost to the Longhorns 62-64.

Spencer Suckow

The Iowa State women’s basketball team fell 73-64 at West Virginia on Wednesday night.

Poor shooting dooms Cyclones

Coming into Wednesday’s game, Iowa State was shooting nearly 46 percent from the floor and roughly 33 percent from beyond the arc, good for an average of 81.1 points per game.

The past two games, however, Iowa State has been held well below those averages. The Cyclones have been held in check by two of the stingier defenses in the conference in Texas and now West Virginia.

Against the Mountaineers, the Cyclones shot 33 percent from the field and 24 percent from 3-point range, and no player who played at least 10 minutes shot over 45 percent on the night. Bridget Carleton had another great scoring night with 26 points, but take her away, and the shooting percentages plummet even further.

Not helping matters was the fact Iowa State particularly struggled at the beginning and end of the game, shooting a total of 9-for-32 (28 percent) in the first and last quarters.

This was always going to be a tough game for the Cyclones, as West Virginia is the longest trip of the Big 12 season, but a team that relies on shooting as heavily as Iowa State does can’t afford to struggle that much to start and finish games. Especially not in conference play.

Road woes

Without a doubt, Iowa State has had a good start to the season. Much of that success can be attributed to the team’s dominance on its home floor, as the Cyclones are 11-1 at Hilton Coliseum this season, with the one loss coming to the No. 11 team in the country.

For as good as Iowa State has been at home, though, the team has yet to prove it can consistently win on the road. With the loss to West Virginia, the Cyclones now fall to 1-3 on the road this season.

That’s not necessarily cause for panic, as Iowa State has certainly played tough competition in each of its four road games. However, if the team wants to be a key player in the Big 12 title race and further justify its ranking, they need to start stealing some road games.

Wednesday’s game was winnable for Iowa State. The team was leading at the beginning of the fourth quarter and was ultimately doomed by its own poor shooting. That will likely eat at head coach Bill Fennelly during the plane ride back to Ames.

Uncharted territory

With the loss to West Virginia, Iowa State now is in the midst of its first losing streak of the season. It isn’t the first bit of adversity that the team has faced this season, but it’ll still be interesting to see nonetheless how the team responds to the first set of back-to-back losses.

On the bright side for the Cyclones, there’s enough of a sample size to say that the poor shooting over the last two games is probably an outlier. In all likelihood, the team will probably return to its season averages soon enough.

This Saturday should be as good of an opportunity as any to bounce back, as Iowa State not only returns home, but also plays host to the only team in the Big 12 with a losing record overall in Oklahoma.

On paper, this should be the type of game that gives the Cyclones their confidence back. They’ll certainly need that confidence going forward, as the team has a matchup with No. 2 Baylor looming next week. Come out flat against the Sooners, and Iowa State’s season could go off the rails quickly.