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Cyclones search for spark as road stretch continues

Emily+Ryan+runs+the+Iowa+State+offense+against+UNI+at+Hilton+Coliseum+on+Dec.+20%2C+2023.
Tyler Coe
Emily Ryan runs the Iowa State offense against UNI at Hilton Coliseum on Dec. 20, 2023.

The conference slate started strong for the Iowa State women’s basketball team, rocketing out to a 5-0 start. A forfeit win was added as well before the struggles started with a road loss to Texas Tech and another against Kansas.

Both games saw the Cyclones be competitive, but could not close each game. There were moments when it looked like Iowa State was going to find some momentum and pull away, but that did not happen.

Head coach Bill Fennelly said the scoring has not been where it needs to be, scoring 63 against Texas Tech and 58 against Kansas. He added that doing the little things becomes more important on the road.

“It comes down to, for us, how hard are you playing, are you defending, are you doing the things that give yourself a chance,” Fennelly said. “Don’t beat yourself. I think on the road, that’s the biggest thing.”

Against Texas Tech, senior Emily Ryan was the highlight, getting back into the starting lineup for the first time this season. Ryan scored the first four points for Iowa State and led in scoring with 18, but the collective effort was not enough.

In the Kansas game, many players tried to provide that spark in what was a close, defensive battle. Freshman Audi Crooks led scoring with 25, a season-high for her, shooting 10-for-23 from the field and adding five free throws.

Freshmen Jalynn Bristow and Kelsey Joens also provided moments against Kansas that tried to bring some extra life into the Cyclones. Bristow scored eight points in the game, all in the second quarter, making two threes and a layup that tried to get the offense going.

Joens made a three late in the third quarter against the Jayhawks that put the Cyclones up by four, which, at the time, felt like the start of the Cyclones being able to close out the game. What followed, however, was a 6-0 Kansas run that stole all the momentum from the Cyclones.

Now on a two-game skid, Iowa State will try to break out of it in another road game. Joens said the team needs to find a way to finish games late and motivate each other to do so.

“We know we need to get back on track, bring our own energy,” Joens said. “We’ve gotta get out of this hole somehow. Let’s start it now.”

Not being in front of the home fans at Hilton Coliseum may be the reason the Cyclones have not found that spark late in these games. Road games are always difficult, especially when there are so many in a row.

“I’m big on you find a way, you don’t find an excuse,” Fennelly said. “But I do think that situation has impacted our team. I really do.”

The Cyclones will need to find that spark in some way, as they will play on the road for the third straight time Saturday against West Virginia. The game will start at 1 p.m. Saturday and will be streamed on ESPN+.

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