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Three Big Takeaways: Fourth quarter surge helps Iowa State pull off miraculous comeback

Tyler Coe
Emily Ryan runs the Iowa State offense against UNI at Hilton Coliseum on Dec. 20, 2023.

AMES — Iowa State hosted No. 24 West Virginia Wednesday night at Hilton Coliseum, where the Cyclones pulled off the impossible and came back to upset their first ranked opponent of the season in a 74-64 win over the Mountaineers.

A strong fourth quarter followed by a stellar defensive second-half performance helped Iowa State stay undefeated in conference play, even when hopes seemed down at the half.

Emily Ryan leads fourth-quarter surge

Entering the fourth quarter, Iowa State showed some signs of life after being down 13 points at halftime, by cutting the lead to eight points going into the fourth quarter.

The Cyclones then followed by completely dominating the Mountaineers in the fourth quarter, as they outscored West Virginia 27-9 that eventually gave Iowa State its 10-point win.

One of the key players in the fourth quarter was guard Emily Ryan, as she converted all three of her shot attempts in the quarter while also making all four of her free throw attempts.

Those shots from Ryan helped contribute to the 69.2% fourth-quarter shooting from Iowa State, while also having made all seven free throw attempts in a key quarter.

Even while coming off the bench, Ryan played the most minutes she’s played this season (26), as she and the rest of the team came up big to finish off a great night.

“It’s super fun being back out there playing with this team,” Ryan said. “We’re just gonna trust the process and slowly get back to it. I’m just lucky that I’m coming back to a team that’s this fun to be around.”

Second-half defensive performance holds high-flying Mountaineer offense

Prior to this game, the Mountaineers had never had as bad of a shooting half as they had in its loss to Iowa State on Wednesday, as they finished the second half only scoring a combined 20 points.

Even in their 70-49 loss to No. 10 Texas on Saturday, the Mountaineers still scored over 20 points in each half regardless of their crushing loss.

But this performance speaks higher for Iowa State, as its defense was able to hold down one of the top-scoring offenses in the Big 12 to only 20 points in the second half.

The Cyclones forced West Virginia to shoot 8-for-32 in the second half, with only three of those makes being from 3-point range in 19 attempts.

Forward Addy Brown continued to showcase her playmaking abilities with a near triple-double performance, as she recapped the way the team showed a lot of fight even when it had seemed like all hope had been lost.

“We were down 19 in the middle of the third quarter, and we found a way to win,” Brown said. “This team has a lot of fight, and I think we showed that tonight and in other nights which just makes this team so special.”

Hilton magic yet again brings another level of motivation to the Cyclones’ big day

One of the best college basketball atmospheres was alive and well once again, as the Hilton magic helped bring an extra level of motivation to the Cyclones completing the impossible.

Despite there being less than ideal weather conditions due to heavy snowfall the day before, Iowa State fans still made the travels through the cold to make the game against one of the best in the country.

Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly has been around Hilton Coliseum for a long time and knows that the Hilton magic was alive and well in Iowa State’s big win on Wednesday night.

“The crowd was tremendous,” Fennelly said. “The thing about our fans is that they’re not screaming and hollering when we’re down, they’re truly in the game. When they need us, we’re ready, and I feel that truly changed the game for us.”

Many students were not in attendance during this big game due to it being during winter break, so expect the Hilton magic to only grow as the Cyclones continue to soar higher following their now 4-0 record in conference play.

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