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Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State starts conference play with big road win over Oklahoma State

Arianna+Jackson+shoots+a+three+against+North+Dakota+State+at+Hilton+Coliseum+on+Dec.+10%2C+2023.
Tyler Coe
Arianna Jackson shoots a three against North Dakota State at Hilton Coliseum on Dec. 10, 2023.

Iowa State started the Big 12 portion of the season on the road against Oklahoma State. Both teams entered with a 7-4 record and were looking to start conference play on the right foot.

Oklahoma State had not lost at home during non-conference play and Iowa State finished non-conference with three straight wins. Something would have to give and it would, with Iowa State taking the win 76-68.

Here are the three biggest takeaways from the Cyclones’ Big 12 opener:

Points in the paint lead the way, threes find their way in

Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly has said in the past that the team often takes what the defense gives them. Oklahoma State gave the Cyclones a big opportunity inside.

Containing freshman Audi Crooks has been difficult for many teams and Oklahoma State was no exception. The Cyclones had trouble from the perimeter but got the ball inside to score.

Crooks led scoring for the Cyclones with 21 points. All of her baskets came from inside the paint as she went 9-for-14 from the floor and made all three of her free throws.

Of Iowa State’s 76 points, 40 came from inside the paint. Outside, the Cyclones got better as the game went on, shooting 9-for-23 from three.

The combined shooting effort led by the points in the paint allowed Iowa State to shoot 53% from the field. This was the sixth time this season and fourth game in a row the Cyclones shot 50% or better.

Following Crooks was Addy Brown with 20 points, Arianna Jackson with 14 and Isnelle Natabou with 10. Natabou was the other big presence inside along with Crooks to gain points in the paint.

Rebounding

The Cyclones have been one of the best rebounding teams in the country this season. Ranked 20th, Iowa State has been able to take opportunities away from other teams and get second chance points.

Iowa State outrebounded Oklahoma State 48-21. Brown was the leading rebounder with nine, leaving her one shy of her sixth straight double-double, followed by Crooks and Jalynn Bristow with seven each.

All nine Cyclones that played grabbed at least one rebound. Having multiple players that are able to grab rebounds will suit Iowa State well moving forward.

Offensive rebounds were a big reason for Iowa State’s victory. The Cyclones had nine offensive rebounds which led to 11 second chance points.

Conference play begins with a win

Starting conference play with a win is always important. It might be a bit more needed this year knowing the youth the Cyclone roster has.

Finishing the non-conference portion with three straight wins seemed to give the Cyclones confidence and momentum. Iowa State looks to be finding a groove and that has now carried over into conference play.

Players like Jackson and Natabou stepped up their game against the Cowgirls. Even though she fouled out late in the contest, Jackson shot 5-for-7 from the field and 4-for-5 from the perimeter, while Natabou shot 5-for-6 down low.

Another game where the offense was clicking helped, but the defensive effort was big too. The rebounding margin was large again and the defense held Oklahoma State to nine points in the third quarter.

The Cowgirls had many scoring droughts including one that lasted the final three and a half minutes of the third quarter. The droughts allowed Iowa State to go on scoring runs to pull away in the second half and win to start the conference slate.

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