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Iowa State Daily

Cyclones fall short of massive road comeback against Drake

Josue Aleman
Cyclones dive for the ball at the Iowa State vs. Drake game, Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa, Nov. 12, 2023.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa State women’s basketball took the short trip south to Des Moines to take on Drake, and after a year hiatus, the rivalry was renewed with the Bulldogs getting the better of Iowa State 85-73.

Early on, shots were not falling for the Cyclones. Not a single three was made the entire first half, going 0-for-7 from behind the arc.

“In the second quarter we couldn’t get anything to go. Then what happens is you miss a couple shots, and then no one wants to shoot,” head coach Bill Fennelly said.

Iowa State made seven of its 27 field goal attempts in the first half, which all came in the first quarter, as it missed all nine shots in the second quarter.

“We had a couple of shots we needed to make and missed them. Then we just got real tentative,” Fennelly said.

The score was tied at 16 after the first quarter, but the stuggles in the second put Iowa State down big at the half. Drake pulled away due to missed baskets from the Cyclones to take a 38-20 lead at the half.

A scoring drought of over eight minutes allowed Drake to pull away. Iowa State was on the losing side of a 19-0 Bulldog run throughout most of the second quarter.

“Obviously, you can imagine, we didn’t come out ready to go. We came out kind of flat,” senior Hannah Belanger said.

Something changed after halftime as the shots started to fall for Iowa State. Two quick 3-pointers started the second half on a strong note for the Cyclones.

“We knew it was going to be a battle, but we can’t allow ourselves to be down in the first half the way that we did. I feel the way we played in the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth is who we really are,” freshman Audi Crooks said.

The Cyclones went 8-for-16 on second-half threes to mount a comeback. Belanger went 3-for-6 from the perimeter.

“When we play the right way like we did in the third quarter, things click. We’re really a good team, more than what people think,” Belanger said.

Crooks led the scoring for the Cyclones with 23 points, shooting 7-for-9 from the floor and making seven of her 10 free throw attempts.

“[Crooks] was really good. She gave us some low-post presence when we really needed it,” Fennelly said.

The post play from Crooks on offense and defense played a big role in Iowa State’s charge from behind. When threes were not falling, Crooks picked up the slack in the paint.

“The ball was going in the paint today. I feel like that’s what was working for us, but that only works for us because we have so many threats on the perimeter,” Crooks said.

The momentum switched to Iowa State, with the Cyclones tying the game at 52 early in the fourth quarter and taking a 70-68 lead later.

“They’re good kids. They’re trying,” Fennelly said. “Obviously they’re in a tough spot with the learning curve, but they competed. In the last five minutes, it kind of got away from us, but that’s what’s going to happen with younger players.”

Every time Iowa State took the lead down to one possession, Drake always had an answer. The Cyclones could never get over the hump enough to maintain a lead, and the Bulldogs pulled away down the stretch to hang on for a win.

The youth of the Cyclones and the experience of the Bulldogs were highlighted at certain times, and experience won the day for Drake.

“When you play a team like this, they expose you,” Fennelly said. “They’re smart. They’re tough. They’re old. And when we made a mistake, they made us pay for it.”

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    Russ Twelmeyer | Nov 13, 2023 at 11:57 am

    Another great coverage of the game by Brett Twelmeyer.