Iowa State falls short against “monster” Lady Bears

Then junior Bridget Carleton making her way into Bears territory during the game against Baylor on Jan. 17 at the Hilton Coliseum. 

Noah Rohlfing

“They’re a monster.”

That’s pretty much all that can be said about Baylor after its 79-50 victory over Iowa State on Wednesday night. The Lady Bears are ranked No. 4 for a reason, and they more than showed what they were capable of against the Cyclones.

Despite never really getting out of cruise control, Baylor was in command of every facet of the game from the opening tip. The tip-off was a moment symbolic of the gulf between the two teams.

The 6-foot-1 freshman guard Madison Wise took the tip for Iowa State, and she went up against Baylor’s 6-foot-4 forward Lauren Cox. Cox won the tip easily, and 18 seconds later the Lady Bears scored inside to take the lead.

They would not once come close to relinquishing it.

The first quarter was a horror show on every level for Iowa State. From blocked shots to turnovers to coach Bill Fennelly picking up his first technical foul of the year, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Iowa State shot 1-for-17 in the first quarter for 5.9 percent.

It seemed like the Cyclones had lost as soon as Baylor arrived at Hilton. Fennelly spoke before the road contest with Baylor about the challenges of not losing the mental contest before tip-off, and after another first-quarter no show against the Lady Bears, he was frank once again.

“1-for-17 is 1-for-17,” Fennelly said. “[And] when you play a great team like Baylor it puts you in a huge hole.

“You say everything you can to a team, but I think the game’s lost before it even starts sometimes.”

Junior guard Bridget Carleton scored the Cyclones’ only basket of the quarter and was responsible for 12 of Iowa State’s first 14 points.

Carleton broke through a slump in tonight’s game, scoring 24 of the team’s 50 points on 7-for-19 shooting and added eight rebounds.

“It was nice to hit some threes finally,” Carleton said. “I guess the rest day paid off.”

Baylor’s sheer size advantage paid massive dividends, as the Lady Bears scored 22 first-half points in the paint compared to just six for the Cyclones. By the end of the game, Baylor’s rebounding advantage was 47-29. The Cyclones simply didn’t have an answer to Baylor’s post players.

Perhaps the most damning example of Baylor’s dominance was the nine-block performance from Cox. The Baylor forward had six blocks in the first 20 minutes of play and finished one block shy of a triple-double (21 points, 15 rebounds).

Cox credited her size advantage and coaching with her sterling performance.

“Coach puts emphasis on that all the time,” Cox said. “I knew I had size on them, so it was going to be easy to get some of those blocks.”

The Cyclones showed signs of life in the third quarter, playing tough defense and frustrating the Lady Bears. Iowa State outscored the Bears 17-14 in the quarter, trimming the deficit to 18 points and giving the Hilton crowd something to cheer about. Freshman guard Rae Johnson joined Carleton as the only two Cyclones to reach double figures on the night, scoring 10 points and adding three assists.

Johnson played 30 minutes and took playing time from senior guard Emily Durr, who did not play in the second half at all. When asked if Durr was ok, Fennelly’s response was curt.

“She’s fine,” Fennelly said. “Coach’s decision.”

The Lady Bears got back to their best in the fourth, stretching the lead to 29 at the final buzzer. Baylor scored 25 points in the final frame and the Cyclones have now allowed 54 total fourth quarter points in their last two home games.

As the final buzzer sounded the Cyclones shook hands and walked off the court, beaten and bruised by the Big 12’s boogeyman once again.