Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones need correcting after lopsided losses


Jacob Rice/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State senior Ashley Joens shoots a free throw against Northern Iowa on Dec. 12.

Aaron Hickman

It was another lopsided loss for the Cyclones on Sunday, this time on the road against the No. 15 Baylor Bears by a score of 87-61.

With the Joens sisters both available following their absence against Texas Wednesday night, there was still much to be desired as Baylor controlled every aspect of the game.

A third quarter that was doomed by cold shooting, especially from beyond the arc, as well as Baylor’s physicality and toughness effectively took Iowa State out of the game heading into the fourth.

The team falls to 16-3 (5-2) on the season, and they will have some things to figure out before trying to get back on track against Kansas on Wednesday.

The sky isn’t falling… yet

First of all, Iowa State is still tied for first in the conference (5-2 along with Kansas State and Oklahoma).

While the past two losses have been ugly, one came with key players unavailable, and one came with key players just getting back into the lineup. The Big 12 is already as tough as it gets, and when you add that extra layer of adversity things could potentially look pretty bad.

Second, Ashley Joens is on the roster. With one of the best players in the country and a supporting cast that has looked superb for much of the season, Iowa State still has all the talent it needs to continue to compete with teams in the Big 12 and around the country.

Third, the ice-cold three point shooting isn’t a trend. The team has been missing some open shots that have fallen for much of the season, and a couple of out-of-form games can be alarming but not indicative of what this team is.

With all of that being said, everything comes down to how the Cyclones respond moving forward. Being tied atop the Big 12 is a great place to respond from.

Losing in the margins

Against Texas and Baylor, Iowa State lost the turnover battle by a combined 32-21, was out-rebounded 79-59 and been out-assisted 40-16.

The Cyclones have also been outperformed in second-chance points (18-10), points-off-turnovers (32-13) and fast-break points (17-5).

There have been plenty of uncharacteristic moments over the past two games, like not taking care of the ball and immediately allowing fast-break points on the other end or settling for shots instead of moving the ball around on offense and finding a better one.

Moments like this led to a 17-0 run by Baylor and a drought of nearly 8 minutes that effectively ended the contest heading into the fourth quarter.

Iowa State has reached this point with tremendous individual play from several players, but most importantly by winning in the margins. 

Live by the three, die by the three

This saying has become quite cliché, especially in the past five years or so, but it does apply to Iowa State.

It’s no secret that the three-point shot is something Iowa State relies on. It should, with players like Lexi Donarski, Aubrey and Ashley Joens, Emily Ryan and even Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw showing how well the team can shoot from beyond the arc.

Lately, that hasn’t been the case.

While Texas only made one more three than Iowa State on a slightly worse percentage, Baylor took advantage of the Cyclones cold shooting with some heat of their own.

Shooting 12-21 (57 percent) from three-point land while Iowa State shot 7-27 (26%), Baylor really caught the Cyclones at a bad time.

This production can be made up elsewhere, but going up against very physical teams like Texas and Baylor makes the task incredibly difficult. Iowa State’s offense is built to work from the outside-in, which is the opposite of several teams they face in the conference.

That was on display in the past two games, as points in the paint were hard to come by. Texas and Baylor’s combined points in the paint were at 54, while the Cyclones only managed 28.

Again, this cold shooting is not a trend yet. Bill Fennelly will continue to trust his players to take shots.