TCU or West Virginia? A look at the Cyclones’ possible opponents

Maddie Frederick hypes up the Cyclones on Feb. 28 in Hilton Coliseum against No. 5 Baylor.

It was a historic regular season for saw Iowa State women’s basketball.

The Cyclones won the most games in the regular season and conference play in program history, as well as placing a Big 12-leading three players onto the All-Big 12 First Team (Ashley Joens, Lexi Donarski and Emily Ryan).

But as the Big 12 Tournament approaches, the win-loss columns are effectively reduced to zero from this point forward. It’s a reset for the teams involved.

The Cyclones earned the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 Tournament and have the benefit of waiting to play Friday against the winner of Thursday’s game between TCU and West Virginia.

Going a combined 4-0 against the two teams during the regular season, with Iowa State’s smallest margin of victory against the two teams being 16 points, there is plenty of reason to feel good about the team’s chances in their first game of the Big 12 Tournament.

Still, this is essentially a fresh slate. Anything can happen, and March provides all kinds of crazy outcomes and performances.

“That’s the great thing about these tournaments,” Iowa State Head Coach Bill Fennelly said. “That [seed] just dictates what color jersey you’re wearing. Everyone gets another chance.”

Either the Horned Frogs or the Mountaineers will get another chance at Iowa State on Friday.

With so much on the line, it’s only right to take a deep dive into both of the Cyclones’ potential opponents for their first game in Kansas City.

West Virginia

Iowa State has won by a combined 33 points in the two meetings against West Virginia this season, with an 88-72 win back in January and a 74-57 win this past Saturday.

The Mountaineers were able to give the Cyclones significant problems in a single quarter in both games. If they can turn those single quarters into a 40-minute effort, the cardinal and gold could run into some problems.

In January, West Virginia exploded for a 28-point third quarter. Iowa State was already up by 18 and put up 29 points of its own in the frame, but the point remains that the Mountaineers have the potential for high-powered offense even if it’s just in spurts.

In the most recent meeting, it was their defense that the Mountaineers put on display, that time in the opening frame. Holding a 14-10 lead after one, it was the final three quarters where things fell apart.

Esmery Martinez, who averages just over 11 points-per-game and just under nine rebounds-per-game, didn’t play in the first meeting and got into foul trouble in the second for West Virginia.

She is a post-presence that has the potential to do some damage to an Iowa State team that has had trouble with that aspect of the game this season.

Looking at where things went right for Iowa State, there’s plenty of statistics that are of note.

Shooting over 37 percent from three and over 47 percent overall, that 10-point first quarter is really the only time that the Cyclones’ offense wasn’t clicking.

The January meeting saw five Cyclones score in double figures, while last week’s meeting saw four players score at least nine points. The overall attack has been balanced, and the team has also managed to shoot 44 total free throws in the two matchups.

Someone to watch if the Cyclones do end up facing West Virginia is Emily Ryan. She has had two of her better, if not her best, performances of the season against the Mountaineers.

Falling one rebound short of a triple-double back in January with 10 points, 16 assists and nine rebounds and scoring a career-high 29 points on 10-12 shooting last weekend, the sophomore point guard seems to be quite comfortable against the Big 12’s seven seed.


The Cyclones have had a lot of success in their two matchups with TCU this season.

In the first meeting back on Jan. 8, Iowa State came away with a 78-47 win. The rematch was much of the same, with Iowa State winning 93-70 on Feb. 12.

Out of eight quarters played, the Cyclones won seven, dropping the first quarter of the second meeting by a score of 21-19.

With a record of 6-21 on the season, TCU has not found the consistency that it needs to be successful yet. Losing 13 consecutive games, TCU finds itself at the bottom of the Big 12.

As Fennelly said in a recent press conference, the Big 12 Tournament provides a fresh start for every team. This means that TCU will be playing with nothing to lose and could even come out with a much different game plan this time around.

Lauren Heard is the biggest scoring threat for the Horned Frogs. Averaging 14.9 points per game, Heard is capable of having a breakout game during the tournament.

Iowa State held Heard to just four points in the first meeting, but she got her revenge with 17 points in the rematch. She also recently became TCU’s all-time leading scorer.

One other player to look out for is Adika Okako who recently eclipsed 1,000 career points.

The difference maker in this potential matchup would be the TCU defense. If the Horned Frogs can limit the open shots from the Cyclones, the game could come down to the wire.

Another important piece of information when evaluating TCU is that the team has just a 1-10 record on the road and are 0-1 in neutral site games.

Road struggles have been no secret for the Horned Frogs, which could be a major advantage for the Cyclones who are 11-3 in road and neutral site games.