Poor shooting costs ISU seniors one final shot at glory


Kelby Wingert/Iowa State Daily

Senior forward Dustin Hogue puts up a three-pointer during the Big 12 Championship semifinal game against Oklahoma on March 13 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. The Cyclones defeated the Sooners 67-65 to advance to the final championship game against Kansas on March 14. Hogue had six points for Iowa State.

Max Dible

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Georges Niang started Iowa State’s first NCAA tournament game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham on March 19 in Louisville, Kentucky shooting 3-of-4 from the field. Iowa State started out on a 10-2 run.

Then, everything fell apart.

The junior and leading ISU scorer picked up his second foul midway through the first half, sending him to the bench. He played only eight minutes in the opening stanza, which threw off his rhythm for the rest of the game.

“I thought [Niang] got a little out of rhythm with the foul trouble,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. “He hasn’t been in foul trouble in a long time.”

Niang finished the evening 1-for-11 from the floor, for a total of 4-of-15 on the night. Every roll and bounce seemed not to go his way, as he missed seven shots on the evening from essentially point-blank range.

“I put a lot of blame on myself down the stretch just not being able to make plays that I usually make,” Niang said of his team’s 60-59 defeat at the hands of UAB.

“It really hurts because Dustin [Hogue], Bryce [Dejean-Jones], Daniel Edozie—all those guys deserve better than to be out in the first round. I feel like I could have helped them out, but I didn’t do that and it makes me feel horrible.”

Niang was not the only one to lament his performance and to take upon his shoulders the burden of letting down the ISU seniors, who will never play another game in the cardinal and gold.

Naz Long threw up an errant 3-point shot that could have tied the game in the final seconds, but it fell short of a true mark. It was the twenty-third ISU attempt and sixteenth ISU miss of the evening from deep.

“…If I hit my shots before that, we wouldn’t have been in the position we were in, so I’m putting a lot of that on myself as a captain on this team,” Long said. “As a third year guy, I can’t have performances like that in the tournament.”

Dustin Hogue, a two-year member of the ISU squad and the player who received easily the loudest ovation on senior night at Hilton, was not concerned with assigning blame in the aftermath. Instead, he made it about the entire team—including himself—which has come to be his reputation in and out of the locker room during his time in Ames.

“We hit those shots every day, every night,” Hogue said. “We hit those shots in our sleep, and today, we just couldn’t find the rim.”

While still noticeably rattled by the abrupt end of his collegiate career, Hogue did his best to stay positive about his time at Iowa State, which he said he views as an unexpected blessing.

“I built a really good bond with these people. These people will always be my brothers. My coaches will always be my family,” Hogue said emotionally after the loss.

“This season means a lot. This is not the way I wanted to end it. It’s a pretty embarrassing feeling in my opinion, but I love these guys. I would never go to war with anybody else. These guys have always been great to me, and I’m always going to remember everybody.”