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Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones contend with No. 4 Hawkeyes but Iowa proves to be too much

Matteo Bender
Kelsey Joens shooting a three pointer during the Iowa State vs. Iowa match, Hilton Coliseum, Dec. 6, 2023.

AMES — In front of a sold-out crowd, Iowa State hosted No. 4 Iowa in another clash between in-state rivals. This year’s edition of the Cy-Hawk game was a tight one all the way, with Iowa sealing the deal 67-58.

“I could not be more proud of how they played, the way they played [and] the way they did things we asked them to do coming into this game,” head coach Bill Fennelly said.

In what was a close game all night, Iowa State nearly had an answer for everything Iowa threw at them. The spotlight was on Iowa guard Caitlin Clark and the main question was how Iowa State would respond.

Poor shot selection and inexperience against the reigning national runner-ups were ultimately the downfall of the Cyclones.

Here are the three biggest takeaways from Iowa State vs. No. 4 Iowa:

Lost leads

Iowa State battled with Iowa all game. The difference between the youth and inexperience of the Cyclones against a juggernaut like Iowa was the biggest question of how they would match up.

Droughts hit hard throughout the game on both sides, which kept Iowa State within reach, but the Cyclones were unable to break away when leads did come around.

A total of 12 lead changes and nine ties occurred throughout the game. The big difference was that Iowa State led for not even three minutes the entire game.

During the biggest breakaway Iowa had at the end of the game, which was during the final four minutes, Iowa State did not make a basket.

“Attention to detail was important, and we did a great job of that for about 35 minutes. I think the last five we kind of let that get away from us,” Addy Brown said.

The Cyclones did not make a three in the second half either and went 5-for-20 from the perimeter. The five threes were all made by five different players.

Containing Caitlin Clark and Iowa

The main issue for both teams was that shots weren’t falling. Iowa State shot 34%, and Iowa shot 35% from the field.

Neither team had a player shoot over 50% in the game.

Fennelly mentioned earlier in the week that stopping Clark would not happen. Slowing her down was the only way to contend and keep things close.

“That’s a team that can score in bunches, and I thought overall we did the things we needed to do to keep ourselves in the game,” Fennelly said.

Clark did lead scoring with 35 points, but that total came on a whopping 31 shots from the floor. She went 12-of-31 from the field and 6-of-16 from beyond the arc.

On shots that did not fall, Iowa State was there to grab a plethora of rebounds, outrebounding Iowa 43-42.

“There were not a whole lot of people that thought we could genuinely win this game. I think a lot of people thought we were just going to roll over and die and let them do what they wanted to do,” Audi Crooks said.

Two Cyclones grab a double-double

Iowa State had two big contributors against Iowa. Brown and Crooks each had a double-double in their first Cy-Hawk game.

Brown had 14 points and 12 rebounds, shot 5-for-12 from the floor and added five assists to her night.

“Each game, what steps can we take to continue to get better? That’s the challenge now,” Brown said.

Crooks was the playmaker early for Iowa State. She led scoring for the Cyclones with 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Her presence in the paint was felt again, but she did something unexpected: She made a three. Fennelly said the three Crooks made was a play drawn up before the game.

“I don’t know if you could’ve been more pleased with the way she played at all. She’s an amazing kid, and we’re just really lucky to have her,” Fennelly said.

Both Brown and Crooks said that having five freshmen on the team, including themselves, will be great for the future of Iowa State women’s basketball. The Iowa game was a great test for the young bunch and showed they have a promising future.

“When we play together and we’re cohesive, we are a phenomenal basketball team,” Crooks said.

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    Russ Twelmeyer | Dec 8, 2023 at 8:44 am

    Great article again.