Johnson, Cyclones struggle offensively, Iowa State drops fourth straight

Seanna Johnson, junior guard, blocks an opponent from TCU during the game on Jan. 27. This was her 13th game of the season with 10 or more rebounds. ISU fell 72-62.

Trey Alessio

In many other games, junior guard Seanna Johnson is a double-double machine — racking up points and snagging rebounds.

But something was off in Iowa State’s (11-8, 3-5 Big 12) Wednesday night 72-62 defeat to TCU (1-8, 4-5 Big 12) at Hilton Coliseum.

Four days prior, a scary moment occurred for the ISU women’s basketball team against No. 4 Baylor when Johnson was fouled hard underneath the basket.

The crowd gasped as Johnson took a tumble and landed hard on her left knee. Everybody inside Hilton Coliseum held their breath as the trainers tended to her. They quickly breathed a sigh of relief when she ran out of the tunnel and re-entered the game several minutes later against Baylor.

Johnson started against TCU, event though ISU coach Bill Fennelly said she was probably at 75-80 percent, if he had to guess.

Early on, she didn’t light up the scoreboard like she normally did. Johnson only scored three points in the first half.

“I think [her knee] probably limited her some,” Fennelly said. “She looked a little tentative. There were times where she normally would probably stick her nose in there defensively or rebound, and kind of shied away from contact. She tried to play, but, obviously didn’t play very well.

“But she tried, and you’ve got to give a kid credit for going out there and competing and doing the best she could.”

Normally, Johnson drives through the lane to score. Johnson found her way on the glass throughout the game. She finished with 11 rebounds but only had three points when the clock struck zero.

But when Johnson had a bad day offensively, freshmen Bridget Carleton and Meredith Burkhall found a way to step up. Carleton scored 19 points in the second half Wednesday. 

“I just started being aggressive,” Carleton said. “Jadda [Buckley] had a lot of pressure on her. She had a good defender, so it was hard for her to get the ball in position to where she was able to score. Seanna, again, had a good defender on her, so I thought it was a good time for me to step up.”

Burkhall said Johnson being banged up didn’t change anything for Iowa State’s scheme heading into the game.

“[Johnson] came ready to play,” Burkhall said. “She said her knee was fine. We just tried to run our sets, but there was good defender on her.”

TCU’s defense held Iowa State to 30.8 percent shooting from the field and 24.1 percent from behind the arc. However, Iowa State seemed to be missing a crucial piece to its offense.

Johnson had 53 points and 23 rebounds in the three games leading up to Wednesday, but she couldn’t put up the same production against TCU. 

Through Johnson’s offensive struggles and Iowa State’s sloppy first half, TCU went on a 17-2 run toward the end of the second quarter. Before the big blow, the Cyclones had a slim lead, but TCU’s run shifted the momentum for the rest of the game.

“The easiest thing to say is basketball is a game you’ve got to make shots and our team can’t make shots,” Fennelly said. “When you shoot the way we shot tonight, we’re not going to beat anybody. I don’t care who it is. I thought TCU was good tonight. They’re well coached. They played hard, but sometimes the stat sheets tell the whole story. I think the stat sheet tells a pretty big story tonight.”

Iowa State struggled offensively all night, but Carleton and Burkhall carried the Cyclones on their backs. Carleton finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds and Burkhall ended up with 12 points and four rebounds.

“I think if Bridget didn’t do what she does, the game isn’t even competitive because no one else could score,” Fennelly said. “I thought Bridget had a really good second half. She wanted the ball. She hunted some shots — hit some tough ones.”

Iowa State has now lost four straight games for the first time since the 2013-14 season.