Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State falls short against Baylor


Daniel Jacobi II

Nyamer Diew drives into the paint during the game against Baylor in Hilton Coliseum on Feb. 4, 2023.

Payne Blazevich, Sports Reporter

In another heartbreaking loss, No. 12 Iowa State dropped its home matchup against Baylor, 76-70 Saturday. The Cyclones were competitive until the final buzzer, but shooting struggles in the fourth quarter proved costly. 

Iowa State came into Saturday’s game looking for an opportunity to bounce back after a one-point road loss against Kansas State Wednesday. The Cyclones and a packed Hilton Coliseum saw the opposite, as Baylor took advantage of Iowa State’s shooting woes.

The team had a prayer’s chance in the final few seconds, but a series of missed layups encapsulated the general mood of the game’s ending: frustrating. 

Another close loss

Headed into the fourth quarter, Iowa State seemed to have all the momentum in the world. It was a back-and-forth battle all night, but consistent scoring helped the Cyclones recover from an early deficit. 

Efforts from guards Nyamer Diew and Ashley Joens put Iowa State ahead, 49-48 heading into the final frame, but Baylor always had an answer, hitting key threes when it mattered most to help to slow down any budding Iowa State momentum. 

“I think we slowed down,” Baylor coach Nicki Collen said. “We started to be really simple, getting simple actions that we run, not try to overcomplicate things.” 

Baylor’s ability to hit dependable shots and find touches in the paint put Iowa State in a precarious position with time winding down. The Cyclones were finding open looks, but shots weren’t falling with any consistency. 

A quick 5-0 run with just over a minute left forced the Cyclones off their game, and Baylor rode the lead until the clock hit zero. Iowa State had its outbursts of scoring in the matchup, but Baylor’s ability to keep the pressure on pushed Iowa State when it wasn’t having the same offensive success. 

“Games go up and down and basketball is a game of runs,” Joens said, “so we just had to continue playing.” 

Woes in the final few minutes

Even in an off-night shooting, Iowa State was still competitive late in the game, but costly turnovers and a key missed shots kept the Cyclones from pulling through. The ending was reminiscent of Iowa State’s previous matchup, where everything seemed to come undone with just a few minutes left. 

“I have no problem with the effort of our team. They’re trying really hard, just the frustration of not making shots, I think impacted us on the defensive end a little bit too much,” head coach Bill Fennelly said.

Ashley Joens reaches to try and rebound the ball during the game against Baylor in Hilton Coliseum on Feb. 4, 2023. (Daniel Jacobi II)

Iowa State has been consistent with its scoring over the past few weeks, but the Cyclones had one of their worst shooting nights in Big 12 play. They shot 42.4% from the floor, going 5-24 from the three-point line. 

The missed shots bit Iowa State in the final few minutes when Baylor led by only a possession or two. Even when the Cyclones got key stops on defense, they weren’t able to turn those plays into points on the other end. 

“It’s a make-shot, miss-shot game and you take (Diew) out of there and we couldn’t make anything,” Fennelly said. 

Diew for two (and three)

Even in the loss, Diew was a difference-maker for the Cyclones. She was near-unstoppable in the third quarter, and her 25 points helped Iowa State stay competitive in the game.

“I wouldn’t say nothing changed, it’s more so my teammates’ support and getting the ball where I wanted it,” Diew said. 

Her playmaking ability began to emerge in conference play, but Diew’s performance against Baylor was her best yet. Her 25 points marked a season high, and 13 came in the third quarter alone. 

She was the lone offensive bright spot on an otherwise difficult shooting night for Iowa State, jumpstarting the offense when it was stagnant. When she made plays, her energy helped bring even more vigor out of her teammates. 

Diew scored and-ones, hit threes and took charges on defense. She played her most impactful minutes of the season and playing with her teammates energized her in big moments. 

“Just being happy, like being there with my teammates and being in the moment,” Diew said.