Three Takeaways: No third option, half-court trapped, and injury news

Junior Bridget Carleton making her way down the court during the game against TCU on Jan. 30 at the Hilton Coliseum. 

Noah Rohlfing

Another ranked team played the Cyclones off their home court on Tuesday night.

No. 22 TCU took control of the game after a tight first quarter and ran away from the Cyclones, handing Iowa State a 75-52 loss.

Here are the takeaways from a fifth-straight home loss for Iowa State.

The Carleton-Durr combo: who else is helping?

There’s no third wheel to this combination, but Bridget Carleton and Emily Durr have been on fire recently. Over the past four games, the two teammates have been trading leading-scorer honors, with Durr now taking the lead in two straight after a season-high 21-point performance.

From the opening tip, it was clear that Durr was taking more of a leading role in the offense with TCU focused on stopping Carleton. The roommates scored all but five of Iowa State’s 29 first half points.

Once the TCU half-court trap kicked into high gear in the second half, though, the two combined for just nine in the final 20 minutes. With the Cyclones’ two main threats neutralized, the Cyclones shot a putrid 30.8 percent in the second half.

No other Cyclone scored more than five points (Adriana Camber and Rae Johnson share that distinction). That’s not a recipe for winning games in the Big 12, especially against a ranked team on a six (now seven) game winning streak.

On one hand, it’s huge for the Cyclones to have two players to go to for points, and Durr has stepped up big-time over the past two weeks. If she continues scoring the ball, that will take some pressure off of Carleton.

On the other hand, there has to be a third option. Right? There just has to. For the Cyclones to have consistent success on the offensive end, the Cyclones need three consistent scorers.

Coach Bill Fennelly said it himself:

“You can’t win at any level [with two players],” Fennelly said. “We had two kids that gave us a chance, and they didn’t get any help.”

At 9-13 and 3-8 in the Big 12, it’s becoming more likely each day that the Cyclones won’t find their third scorer before the regular season is done.

Physicality/Half-court trap

This isn’t how the eighth-rated defense in the Big 12 is supposed to play.

After giving up 16 points in the first to the Cyclones, TCU allowed 13 in the second, 11 in the third, and 12 in the fourth. TCU controlled the game with physical play on both ends of the floor, bodying Carleton whenever she had the ball and not letting the Cyclones have an inch of breathing room.

The third quarter was a picture-perfect example of how to properly run a half-court trapping zone defense. The TCU guards attacked the Cyclones’ primary ball handler – whether it was Nia Washington, Durr, or Johnson – and forced them to the wing.

Then, the Horned Frogs would bring over a second defender to cut off any easy passing lanes. When Carleton got the ball, TCU sent three players at her in an effort to take the ball out of her grasp.

Durr said the Cyclones simply didn’t do what was necessary to break the trap.

“You gotta get the ball in the middle in that type of zone,” Durr said. “We didn’t do a great job of that.

“Not a lot of ball movement.”

The strategy worked with stunning success. The Cyclones were all out of sorts, struggling to pass out of traps and forcing up tough shots. Iowa State went 3-for-12 in that quarter and the game was effectively over.

Iowa State has had trouble against press defenses all season, even in a 61-45 win over Missouri-Kansas City in November when the Cyclones turned it over 21 times.

Fennelly says it’s partly down to players not wanting the ball.

“We had kids that didn’t want to do anything with the ball,” Fennelly said. “When it’s not happening, that zone gets more aggressive, more physical.

“It kind of feeds off itself.”

Given their struggles, the fact that the Cyclones don’t face a press every time they take the court becomes more confusing by the minute.

Injury updates

Bride Kennedy-Hopoate missed Tuesday’s game with a sprained foot and watched from the sidelines in a walking boot. The junior center is the Cyclones’ most physical presence on the court, and against a tough TCU defense, the weight of her absence was obvious.

Without Kennedy-Hopoate on the court, the Cyclones didn’t have anyone who could match up consistently with TCU center Jordan Moore. Moore had 25 points and constantly got easy baskets in the paint.

TCU head coach Raegan Pebley acknowledged that Kennedy-Hopoate’s absence gave the Horned Frogs a big advantage.

“Bride being out for them was a big loss,” Pebley said. “Especially with our post play.”

Fennelly said postgame that Kennedy-Hopoate will be having an MRI tomorrow and that she will be out for the Kansas State game on Saturday “barring some kind of miracle.”

That leaves her with a week and a half to recover for the Feb. 10 matchup with Oklahoma State.

Fennelly was hopeful that Kennedy-Hopoate would be able to play, but it appears that will depend on MRI results.

A new injury that Fennelly discussed was a sore left shoulder for freshman guard Madison Wise. Wise did not score in Tuesday night’s game, and according to Fennelly she had not practiced in the two days prior.

While sounding minor, this is certainly another injury to keep an eye on, as Wise has proven herself to be (while inconsistent) an important part of the Cyclones’ attack.

The open week can’t come soon enough for this Iowa State team.