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Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State unable to resolve road woes in loss to UCF

Arianna+Jackson+trying+to+dribble+into+the+paint+during+the+Iowa+State+vs.+Oklahoma+State+game+in+Hilton+Coliseum%2C+Jan.+31%2C+2024.
Matteo Bender
Arianna Jackson trying to dribble into the paint during the Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State game in Hilton Coliseum, Jan. 31, 2024.

After a resounding bounce-back win at home Wednesday, Iowa State was quickly forced to turn around and focus on its next matchup in Orlando, Florida, against UCF on Saturday.

This matchup would be the first in both programs’ histories, in which the Knights pulled out a 71-66 win over the Cyclones as Iowa State could not stop the hot hands in the second half.

Iowa State can’t limit the hot hands in second half

Going into the second half, Iowa State held a 29-24 lead over UCF after being down 13-12 after one quarter. It looked like the Cyclones had all the momentum going into the second half.

That ended up not being the case, as the Knights’ secondary scoring options in guards Mya Burns and Laila Jewett surged for a combined 34 points that led to UCF earning its second conference win.

Burns and Jewett were both providing some key scoring for the Knights prior to their game with Iowa State, but they both stepped up against the Cyclones which was needed due to UCF’s leading scorer being locked down.

Burns led the Knights with 20 points, 14 of those in the third quarter, as she found her hot hand from 3-point range going 4-for-5 in the third quarter. While she did finish going 4-for-8 from that range, Burns had not been known to be a long-range shooter with a 24% 3-point shooting.

For Jewett, she found her hot hand in the fourth quarter when it mattered most, as she had 11 of her 14 total points scored in the final quarter on perfect shooting.

Despite Iowa State having four scorers in double-figures in this game, it was not enough in the end to stop the road woes the Cyclones currently are having.

Arianna Jackson locks down Knights’ primary scoring option

While Iowa State struggled to limit the other UCF scorers, the Cyclones did a good job holding the Knights’ leading scorer to fewer than her usual 21.1 points per game, as guard Kaitlin Peterson finished with 11 points on the day.

Peterson converted those 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field with three free throws while being shut out in the 3-point category on two attempts from that range.

One of the biggest reasons for Peterson’s lack of productivity came from the defense played by Iowa State guard Arianna Jackson, who has been known as one of the Cyclones’ best defensive guards all season long.

When guarded by Jackson, Peterson did not make a single shot and was constantly forced to pass the ball and make different plays to facilitate the UCF offense.

Head coach Bill Fennelly has constantly considered Jackson as one of the best defensive options he has had, and it showed Saturday as she got the start against one of the Big 12’s best scorers.

Road woes remain unresolved for Iowa State

With this loss to UCF, the Cyclones now hold a four-game losing streak on the road and have gone 1-4 in their past five games played overall.

It has always been known league-wide, that trying to win on the road in the Big 12 is one of the toughest tasks to accomplish, and it was proven Saturday.

Even with the Knights not having a great crowd at the Addition Financial Arena against the Cyclones, traveling yet again to a town that is farther than Iowa State has traveled in its previous games does not make it any easier.

Now with this loss, the Cyclones have a break in play for a week until they host Oklahoma Saturday at Hilton Coliseum, so it is left to wonder how Iowa State will use this time to bounce back and get a win at home.

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