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Three Big Takeaways: No. 23 Oklahoma hands Iowa State first home conference loss

Jalynn+Bristow+drives+the+ball+toward+the+net+at+the+Iowa+State+vs.+Oklahoma+game+in+Hilton+Coliseum%2C+Feb.+10%2C+2024.
Maeley Rosengren
Jalynn Bristow drives the ball toward the net at the Iowa State vs. Oklahoma game in Hilton Coliseum, Feb. 10, 2024.

AMES — Iowa State was held in check by No. 23 Oklahoma, dropping its first conference game at home this season 86-72. First-half turnovers and poor second-half shooting resulted in the loss for the Cyclones.

The loss puts the Cyclones at 7-5 in the Big 12, while Oklahoma extended its winning streak to eight games to remain atop the conference standings.

Here are the three biggest takeaways from Iowa State’s loss to Oklahoma:

Turnover trouble strikes early

As with many games this season, the turnovers hit Iowa State hard. The Cyclones averaged 15.9 per game and nearly hit that total in the first half alone with 15.

Oklahoma took advantage of bad passes, travels and an over-and-back violation, all in part from defensive pressure inside, which disoriented the Iowa State offense. The Sooners had 17 first-half points off of turnovers.

On defense, Iowa State forced eight first-half turnovers, which resulted in seven points. Because of the turnover differential, Oklahoma held a 14-point lead into the half, 49-35.

When Iowa State got shots up, they were falling. The Cyclones’ first-half shooting percentage was better than Oklahoma’s despite shooting half as many shots as the Sooners.

“A big difference in this game was the amount of turnovers we had,” Emily Ryan said. “We weren’t able to get as many good looks at the basket, because we weren’t taking care of the ball, and that starts with me, so I take full responsibility for that.”

The turnovers were the glaring issue that needed to be fixed and turned into points if the Cyclones were to come back in the second half.

Audi Crooks held in check by Oklahoma double-team

The driving force of the team, Audi Crooks, has been one of the toughest issues opposing teams of Iowa State have faced. Oklahoma had a game plan to keep Crooks in check.

Crooks normally will find ways to score inside, but the Oklahoma defense was a different story. The Sooners doubled up on Crooks and forced some tough shots.

No other team has defended and stopped Crooks, as well as Oklahoma has this season.

“Oklahoma was pretty consistent with that double-team,” Crooks said. “They were trying a lot of different things. They mixed up who was guarding me.”

With the trouble inside, Crooks shot 3-for-8 against Oklahoma and went 8-for-11 from the free throw line. Crooks did lead scoring for the Cyclones with 14 points thanks to her free throws.

“We have to do a better job of getting [Crooks] in a position where she can score,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said. “The double-teams affect you, but at the same time the other people have to move too.”

There were times when Crooks was able to kick the ball out to open teammates for shots. Crooks led the Cyclones in assists with six when she got the ball outside.

Iowa State stays competitive in second half

After a lackluster first half, Iowa State played Oklahoma tougher in the second half. The Cyclones tuned up the defense and limited the turnovers to stay in the game.

Iowa State and Oklahoma tied at 20 points in the third quarter and again in the fourth with 17 points. Fennelly said the lineup changes made throughout the second half got the Cyclones better looks to score.

“We talk about seeing the play before you make the play and I thought we did that in the second half,” Fennelly said. “Our post-up with [Crooks] and [Natabou] was much better.”

The Sooners entered foul trouble quickly when Iowa State attacked inside, allowing the Cyclones to shoot more free throws. Iowa State shot 18-for-29 from the charity stripe, with 22 of those attempts coming in the second half.

Even with the fouls, shots were not dropping as needed for the Cyclones, who shot 30.6% from the field in the second half. The lack of falling shots resulted in Iowa State’s first conference loss at home.

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