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Total team control: Iowa State snaps losing streak in return to Hilton

Emily+Ryan+passing+around+a+Oklahoma+State+defender+during+the+Iowa+State+vs.+Oklahoma+State+game+in+Hilton+Coliseum%2C+Jan.+31%2C+2024.
Matteo Bender
Emily Ryan passing around a Oklahoma State defender during the Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State game in Hilton Coliseum, Jan. 31, 2024.

For the first time in 18 days, the Iowa State women’s basketball team took to the court at Hilton Coliseum in front of a crowd of 9,962. With three close road losses in a row, the Cyclones were missing that little extra to close out those games.

That extra surge was found in Iowa State’s 78-67 victory over Oklahoma State. It was a huge effort from the entire team, with multiple players contributing in many ways.

The game started strong for the Cyclones, who burst out to a 9-0 lead in the first four minutes thanks to seven quick points from freshman Addy Brown.

Brown had been dealing with an illness last week and did not perform well. With her illness gone and a chance to play at home again, Brown bounced back with 13 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

The effort inside was a big part of the Cyclones victory, out-scoring the Cowgirls 42-18 in the paint. Freshman Audi Crooks was the highlight of the post-play once again.

“Early on, they were playing man-to-man defense and guards did a good job getting it inside where it needed to be,” Crooks said. “We kept them on their toes all night because we’d go inside then we’d go outside, so tonight wasn’t possible without the guards.”

In the past two games, Crooks set a career-high win scoring with 25 points. She once again bested that total with a new career-high of 29, shooting 14-for-21 from the field.

“It’s pretty cool,” Crooks said. “I’m just happy to contribute any way that I can, whether that be scoring or distributing the ball. Whatever it takes to get a Cyclone win.”

Senior Emily Ryan said Crooks was the main reason that the offense operated how it did. When she got Crooks the ball, many Oklahoma State defenders had to move inside.

“A big part of it is [Crooks] was so incredible inside all night long, to where eventually they had to start sending more bodies at her,” Ryan said. “Credit to [Crooks] for going to work tonight, and everyone else stepped up and hit the shots when they were open.”

Ryan’s ability to facilitate the offense and manage the floor was on full display tonight with her season-high 14 assists. Add that to her nine points and team-leading nine rebounds and Ryan was just shy of a triple-double.

The adjustments made by Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly to move the ball around happened when Oklahoma State made line-up changes. The Cowgirls were without their starting center, so a smaller cast of characters did not help things inside or outside.

When Oklahoma State had multiple people guard Crooks, the Cyclones kicked it out and found open players. Fennelly said though the threes didn’t all fall, they did when they mattered most.

“Oklahoma State, when they subbed, they went small and they tried to spread us out,” Fennelly said. “Now, you have to run bodies at [Crooks]. You’re not going to guard her one-on-one very often, and when they did that our kids sprayed the ball to the wings and finally made a couple.”

Iowa State shot 32-for-70 as a team, with 11 of an attempted 35 threes finding their way in. Freshman Arianna Jackson was the hot hand from distance going 4-for-8, where all 12 of her points came.

One of the biggest threes of the game, however, was from Ryan.

Down by one with a minute to go in the third, Ryan had not scored at all. That would quickly change when she made a three to get the Cyclones back in front and stay in front for good.

“[Ryan]’s a winner,” Fennelly said. “She gets the ball to the right people. She made some shots. Everyone trusts her.”

The shot rallied Iowa State onto a big fourth quarter, snapping the losing streak in front of the home crowd.

“It’s the Big 12. We can’t expect anything easy, it doesn’t matter if we’re home or away,” Ryan said. “Every game is going to be a battle.”

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