Cyclones run into brick wall, Iowa takes advantage of cold shooting


Jacob Rice

Caitlin Clark goes for two at the CyHawk 2022 women’s basketball game. Dec. 7, 2022.

Christian Royston, Sports Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The No. 10 Cyclones landed in Iowa City with heads held high following a strong bounce back game against SIUE.

The Cyclones had only one loss on the season and felt confident in competing hard against in-state rival No. 16 Iowa. However, it seemed Iowa had been watching tapes, as similar issues from the loss to North Carolina arose when the Cyclones crumbled in the second half to fall to Iowa 70-57.

“Our inability to shoot the ball continues to haunt us a little bit,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said.

A second half that felt eerily reminiscent of the Phil Knight Invitational saw Iowa not only erase a 5-point Iowa State lead but put on a shooting display that left Iowa State in the dust.

The Cyclones battled hard, but in the end, the strength of the home crowd gave the Hawkeyes an edge, as the Cyclones dropped their second game of the season.

It all started with a cold first quarter. Just like many games this season, shots were not falling early, but the Cyclones were not scared of putting the ball up.

It seemed like three-pointers were not going to fall until Stephanie Soares finally let one fly that caught nothing but net. After missing the first four threes, the Cyclones needed that to get into a groove.

At the first media timeout, the Cyclones had shot 1-11, making only one three-pointer in the first five minutes of the game. That cold shooting continued, as they didn’t score another point until two minutes left in the quarter. 

“I think when we’re missing that many shots, you’re disappointed because… that’s not who they are,” Fennelly said.

With time ticking down, the Cyclones needed a spark on offense, and they got just that.

Emily Ryan drove to the rim and, with a defender in her face, tossed the ball up to pick up a layup that turned into a three-point play. That play gave the Cyclones enough momentum to chip away at Iowa’s lead. 

With less than a minute left in the first quarter, Ashley Joens had been quiet all night. The frustration mounted as the first five shots she put up could not make their way into the basket. 

The Iowa defenders saw how cold Joens was and let her shoot on her next attempt. That proved to be a big mistake as Joens knocked down a shot from beyond the arc to tie up the game going into the second quarter.

Right before the half, Ryan put up a shot from beyond the arc to take back the lead. A foul down low gave the Cyclones another possession, and Ryan went back for round two. 

After she nailed her second-straight three, Ryan sprinted down the court to go one-on-one with Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and blocked her shot. Her efforts helped propel the Cyclones to a 28-23 lead at halftime.

However, just as quickly as the good times came, the rough night ahead unfolded. 

Trailing by 5 points at the start of the third quarter, Iowa did its best to surge back as the Cyclones clung to a lead. At the media timeout, the score had come down to one point, with Iowa State still leading thanks to a couple of putbacks by Soares. 

The hot offense that went into the locker room was nowhere to be seen, as the second half felt sneakily familiar to the start of the game. The Cyclones were given chances to stop the bleeding at the free throw line but came up short time after time.

“Obviously, when you miss eight free throws in a row, that gets in everyone’s head,” Fennelly said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever… I think my grandson Will’s team had eight misses in a row once.”

Clark also made her presence known, as she had been held to just 2-14 in the first half. Clark pulled up from the logo to drain a three in signature fashion to give Iowa the lead.

The Cyclones needed to get something working and soon. However, just a few possessions later, Clark caught Donarski slacking again and pulled up from the logo again to add to her hot streak.

Iowa scored more points in the third quarter than they scored in the entire first half, entering the final quarter with a 50-36 lead. The Cyclones could not get shots to fall, hitting only five three-pointers of their 20 tries in the game up to that point. 

With how cold the team was from three, the Cyclones were starting to shy away from the three-point line, opting to drive the ball more often.

“When we passed up shots, we kinda played into their defense a little bit more,” Fennelly said. “We’re capable of making those shots; we’re just not doing it.”

The hesitation the Cyclones showed allowed Iowa to pull ahead as the final quarter approached. Fennelly had prided his team on their ability to keep confidence in themselves, even when the results weren’t going in their favor.

However, just like other low-scoring nights, the players were looking for other ways to put points on the board.

The Cyclones women’s basketball team awaits the start of the 2nd half at the Cy-Hawk 2022 women’s basketball game. Dec. 7, 2022. (Jacob Rice)

“There’s probably a small number, but I’ll say there aren’t many coaches in the country that everyone on our team has a green light, and I’m begging them to shoot it,” Fennelly said, “and then they don’t.”

As time was running out, the Cyclones were desperately trying to cut into Iowa’s lead, but the Hawkeyes didn’t budge an inch. Iowa State played hard through each and every possession, but Iowa continued to knock shots down at the buzzer.

Late in the game, Iowa’s Kate Martin threw up two miracle shots from deep at the shot-clock buzzer and hit them both. The nail in the coffin for the Cyclones.

The roaring Iowa crowd drowned out the final buzzer as Clark and the Hawkeyes stood victorious. Another win for Iowa in the Cy-Hawk series.

Despite the poor shooting and second loss of the season, Fennelly still has faith that the team can do great things in the future. Iowa is a tough team and deserved every bit of that No. 16 ranking. Adding to that, playing in Iowa City presented another tough challenge for the Cyclones.

“I love our team. I love our team, and that’s not even up for debate,” Fennelly said. “We got beat by a really, really good team in a tough environment. That’s a credit to them, and we’ve lost a few games over here in the past and kinda rebounded from it and done OK. We’ll be OK.”