Takeaways: Texas A&M beats Iowa State behind aggressive fourth quarter

Ashley Joens celebrates after making a shot against Texas A&M University during the second round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament on March 24.

Megan Teske

Iowa State fell to Texas A&M on Wednesday night 84-82 in overtime in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, ending the Cyclones’ chances to go to the Sweet 16 or further in the tournament.

The Cyclones led the Aggies throughout the whole game, but a late-game comeback led by Texas A&M’s sophomore guard Jordan Nixon, who had 35 points in the game, forced overtime and the Aggies pulled it out on a buzzer beater.

3-point shooting

Iowa State relied heavily on 3-point shooting Wednesday night to maintain its lead, finishing 16-30 beyond the arc.

The Aggies, on the other hand, struggled to shoot the 3-ball throughout the game, going 4-19 from 3 and depended more on points in the paint.

Head Coach Bill Fennelly said Iowa State is a 3-point shooting team that likes to spread the court, and for most of the game, that played in the Cyclones’ favor.

Iowa State got off to a hot start from outside the arc, going 6-7 on 3-pointers in the first quarter with five different players hitting a 3, and the Cyclones closed the quarter up 22-12.

“We have a lot of kids that can make shots,” Fennelly said. “We had some kids make some big ones tonight.”

Each time the Aggies looked like they were close to getting back in it or tying it up, Iowa State would hit a 3 to keep them at distance.

With the Aggies unable to hit 3’s for most of the night, that kept the Cyclones up.

Fennelly said the Cyclones needed to play the way they did by hitting 3-pointers to stay in the game, and that their style of play was different from the Aggies.

“It’s what makes this tournament so great,” Fennelly said. “What you saw tonight for those who didn’t see us all year, that’s kind of the way we play.”

Fourth-quarter comeback

Iowa State went into the fourth quarter up 57-48, but despite that and the 3-point shooting, Texas A&M fought back to tie it at the end of regulation and force overtime.

The Cyclones went away from the 3-ball more in the fourth quarter, only shooting four and connecting on two.

Texas A&M held Iowa State to 38.5 percent on 5-13 shooting from the field in the fourth quarter while the Aggies shot 45.5 percent on 10-22 shooting in the fourth. Two of the Aggies’ 3-pointers also came in the fourth quarter.

Fennelly said the Cyclones knew A&M would come after them and that the game got physical in the fourth quarter, which he said Iowa State handled OK.

“We had a chance to inbound the ball at the end, we had a chance to get a stop, they made the plays,” Fennelly said.

Fennelly said Iowa State withstood some of the physicality and responded when the Aggies tied it early in the fourth quarter, but that A&M was very good when they had to be.

“Texas A&M is a pretty physical team,” junior guard Ashley Joens said. “… If we get knocked down you get back up and you just keep competing.”

Too many turnovers

Turnovers were another thing that proved to be a problem for Iowa State.

The Cyclones turned the ball over 24 times throughout the game, which the Aggies turned into 26 points. Meanwhile, Texas A&M kept the turnovers to single digits with seven, with Iowa State getting 11 points off turnovers.

“We turned the ball over too many times,” Fennelly said. “We knew we’d turn it over but I think 24 times is a lot.”

Fennelly said Iowa State made some bad decisions in the open court with the ball but they had to give Texas A&M credit, because they came after the Cyclones.

“I think our kids probably felt like there were six defenders, maybe seven of them out there, they were so aggressive,” Fennelly said.

The Aggies also had 11 blocks and five steals throughout the game.