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Three Big Takeaways: Ryan sets records, Cyclones stun Bears

Joseph Dicklin
Emily Ryan gets swarmed with Baylor players as she goes for a layup during the Women’s Big 12 Tournament game on March 9, 2024 in the T-Mobile Center, Kansas City.

The Cyclones got the job done in their first game of the Big 12 Tournament by taking down Baylor in a close 67-62 finish.

Iowa State’s efforts helped it stay alive and advance to the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament.

Crooks, Brown lead Cyclones through back-and-forth game

After being nominated to the Big 12 All-Freshman team, Iowa State forward Addy Brown and center Audi Crooks looked to make a statement in a rematch with a Baylor team that took the Cyclones all the way down to the wire the last time they faced off.

Through a game of ups and downs, Brown and Crooks showed off their excellence yet again and helped will Iowa State to a semifinal-clinching win over a tough Bears team.

Brown finished the game getting a 10th double-double of the season with a 16-point, 12-rebound performance. Fourteen of her 16 points came early in both the first and fourth quarters, as Brown set the tone early for the Cyclones’ big win.

For Crooks, she once again dominated the Baylor defense, as she matched the same amount of points she put up against the Bears last time around with 23. Crooks’ 23 was the team-high, as she also cashed in on a 3-pointer that took a couple of bounces to fall in the basket.

“I got the green light from coach [Bill Fennelly], I said hey why not? And it just kind of bounced around a little bit, and I was like, ‘Please, please, I want the green light.’ And it went in, and I was so excited,” Crooks said.

While the rest of the team struggled to get it going, Iowa State guard Emily Ryan, Brown and Crooks once again showed that they could be relied on in the clutch.

Ryan sets assists record, leads a 12-1 run to close out big win

With Crooks and Brown stealing the show in Iowa State’s big tournament win against Baylor on Saturday morning, another Cyclone had a big performance and set a new Iowa State record.

With her 10th assist of the game, Ryan broke the all-time Iowa State record for assists by a single player, as she earned her 746th career assist in Iowa State’s win over the Bears.

Iowa State point guard Emily Ryan takes Baylor player Jada Walker down the court during the first half for the women’s Big 12 Tournament on March 9, 2024, in the T-Mobile Center located in Kansas City. (Joseph Dicklin)

Ryan finished the game with her second double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 assists. Eight of her 12 points ended up coming from the free throw line, as Ryan was continually forced to head to the charity stripe down the stretch as she cashed in when the team needed her most, making all eight of her attempts.

“It was huge. That’s our leader and you guys see that,” Brown said. “She has been here the longest and has the most experience, but for her to step up to the line and keep calm and keep us calm and while having to shoot those free throws is huge.”

Even during the regular season, Ryan was considered the primary free throw shooter for the Cyclones as she went 86.5% from the line. As Iowa State looks forward to what comes next, the team will continue to rely on Ryan’s veteran leadership and ability to make key free throws down the stretch.

Season sweep of Bears has Cyclones awaiting semifinal matchup

With the semifinal clinching win against Baylor, Iowa State completed the season sweep against the Bears.

Even with Baylor being ranked both times, the Cyclones have fought through extreme adversity to pull out two big wins against the same team twice, with this win having an extra incentive.

Fennelly credited his team’s success Saturday morning to his veteran guard in Ryan, as he talked about the way she kept the team cool, calm and collected in the most important moments of a game.

“There was no panic by the young ones and [Ryan] is always talking, ‘We’re fine, we’re fine, next one,’” Fennelly said. “[Ryan] is the leader that they needed, and they needed her really bad today, and she came through as she always does.”

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