Takeaways: Shooting difficulties sink Iowa State against West Virginia

Kylie Feuerbach goes up for a shot attempt against No. 21 West Virginia on Feb. 3 in a 65-56 loss.

Megan Teske

Iowa State women’s basketball was unable to break West Virginia’s eight-game win streak Wednesday night and instead the Cyclones fell to the Mountaineers 65-56, giving them their ninth win in a row.

Iowa State has now lost two conference games in a row, the first time they have done so all season, and the Cyclones now sit at 7-4 in Big 12 play. In their loss against Baylor, the Cyclones struggled with rebounding, but this time, it was shooting difficulties that sunk Iowa State.

Shooting struggles

Iowa State struggled to shoot the ball throughout the night, shooting just 34 percent from the field and 28 percent from beyond the arc.

Iowa State shot 11-39 on 3-pointers against West Virginia, and Head Coach Bill Fennelly said the looks the Cyclones got were good, but they just couldn’t make anything.

“That’s our game, we don’t have a post presence, and they were doing a good job of double teaming [Ashley Joens] and we were kicking it,” Fennelly said. “… That was the way we were gonna score today, we weren’t getting the ball into the lane, we weren’t posting up, they’re big and physical in there so we knew we were gonna have to shoot a lot of them.”

The Cyclones had a few sections of the game where they went on scoring droughts, particularly in the first half of the second quarter, where the Cyclones ended the quarter shooting 29.4 percent from the field and 20 percent from three.

Fennelly said West Virginia is a good defensive team and Iowa State just has to be more aggressive in the future.

Four-level scoring

In his media availability previewing the game against West Virginia, Fennelly talked about the importance of four-level scoring for the Cyclones with the inside, midrange, 3-pointer and free-throw shooting.

Not only did Iowa State have difficulty scoring on contested shots, but the Cyclones also only shot four free throws in the game against West Virginia, wherein they went 1-4. The Mountaineers went 15-18 on free-throw attempts.

Drawing fouls was something the Cyclones were able to do against Baylor, shooting 23-24, but it was something they were unable to do against the Mountaineers.

Fennelly said the Cyclones weren’t aggressive, and when they did take it to the basket, West Virginia did a good job at not creating contact.

“You’re gonna have a hard time at any level when you shoot four free throws,” Fennelly said. “We gotta be more aggressive, gotta take the ball to the basket, initiate contact. We got outscored 15 to one at the free-throw line, that’s a bad one.”

Fennelly added that that has been something they have struggled with a lot and have worked on a lot, but that they will have to keep working on it.

Junior guard Ashley Joens, who led the Cyclones with 17 points, who is an 89.3 percent free-throw shooter, didn’t shoot any free throws against West Virginia.

“Couldn’t get Ash to the free-throw line either,” Fennelly said. “I don’t know the last time Ashley Joens played a game and didn’t shoot a free throw so I think that tells you something too.”

Joens said she doesn’t think about that when she is playing and she just focuses on what is right in front of her and plays.

Fennelly said the team tried to drive the lane and then would stop or they would have a driving lane and wouldn’t take it.

“We work on that every day and obviously it’s gotta be coached better, taught better,” Fennelly said. “But I think then what happens is when you’re not finishing around the basket, then you don’t go to the basket, those things kind of feed on each other.”

Iowa State has an 81.7 percent free-throw shooting percentage on the season, and Fennelly said normally they’re a good free-throw shooting team and not being able to get to the line on a night when the Cyclones struggled to score was a problem.

Rebound reset

A game prior against Baylor, Iowa State was out-rebounded 51-26, with Baylor also grabbing 23 offensive rebounds to Iowa State’s eight.

Against West Virginia, the margin was much slimmer, with the Mountaineers just edging out the Cyclones 42-38 in rebounding, but Iowa State winning the offensive boards 10-8.

Fennelly said the difference between the two games and the rebounding was that the Cyclones just had a little bit more want this time.

“We addressed it a lot leading into the game about you just gotta want to go get the ball,” Fennelly said. “We gotta have more team rebounding, Aubrey [Joens] got us five rebounds and that helped off the bench so, we don’t have anyone that’s gonna go get 15, 18 rebounds very often so we gotta get a lot of five, six, sevens, and I thought we did a better job of that tonight.”

Ashley Joens led the Cyclones in rebounding with nine, while senior forward Kristin Scott pulled down seven. Both freshmen guards Aubrey Joens and Kylie Feuerbach grabbed five rebounds each and freshman guard Emily Ryan and redshirt sophomore forward Morgan Kane each had three.

The Cyclones had six second-chance points off of their 10 offensive rebounds against West Virginia.

Iowa State will return to Ames to take on Texas Tech at 2 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.