Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones contain Gray, beat Texas Tech 71-55


Lexi Donarski guards Texas Tech guard Vivian Gray in Iowa State’s 71-55 win on Feb 26.

Andrew Harrington

AMES — Iowa State women’s basketball showcased its defense Saturday as the team picked up a 71-55 win against Texas Tech.

A combination of team defense and a second half run made the difference as Iowa State remains in a tie for the top spot in the Big 12 with an overall record of 24-4 and a conference record of 13-3.

Donarski does it again

It has become routine at this point to make note of Lexi Donarski causing the opponent’s top scorer to have an off night. The Hilton crowd witnessed this once again, as Donarski did not let Vivian Gray get any easy looks.

Entering the day, Gray was averaging 21.1 points per game.

Donarski has had no problem shutting down Gray this season, holding her to nine points on 3-16 shooting on Saturday. The first time around, Gray was able to score 17 points, but it came on 18 shot attempts.

This defense from Donarski is something that Bill Fennelly and the Cyclones have come to expect on a game-to-game basis.

Containing Gray did much more for Iowa State than the eye could see, as Iowa State was able to hold Texas Tech to just 55 points.

Even Texas Tech head coach Krista Gerlich could not help but mention Donarski after the game.

“[Gray] just had a really rough night, and I would probably credit that to Lexi for sure,” Gerlich said.

Strong second half

Iowa State turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, as Texas Tech was doing everything right to begin the game. Leading by just two points at the half in a game that they were heavily favored, the Cyclones changed things up in the second half.

The two biggest reasons for the turnaround were primarily ball handler Emily Ryan returning after sitting out much of the first half due to foul trouble and placing an emphasis on taking care of the ball.

Fennelly also mentioned that a cause of the struggles was an inability to escape a double team, causing wasted possessions for Iowa State.

Iowa State turned the ball over just twice in the second half, controlling the game from that point on.

Race to the top

The win over the Red Raiders allowed Iowa State to keep a share of the top spot in the Big 12, tied with Baylor at 13-3.

The two squads are set to face off in Hilton Coliseum on Monday, setting up what is possibly the most important game of the season for Iowa State so far. The winner of this matchup clinches at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title.

Although Baylor dominated the first time around, the Cyclones are confident that they will come out strong to earn a win.

While it appeared that the slow start to Saturday’s game may have come from players looking ahead to this important matchup, Fennelly was quick to shut this down.

“You think about the way that Baylor has dominated our league. To even remotely think that ‘Hey, you’re playing a game that could impact the standing and a championship.’ That’s pretty cool,” Fennelly said.