Takeaways: Cyclones’ win in unique way

Iowa State Head Coach Bill Fennelly coaches from the sideline on Dec. 11, 2019. 

After avenging a loss to the Texas Longhorns 69-51 Wednesday night, the Iowa State women’s basketball team got a much-needed win to boost its postseason resume.

Even with the Cyclones walking away with a victory, defensive promise and continued turnover issues highlighted the win.

Defense, Defense, Defense

The Cyclones are known throughout the country as a three-point shooting club that can struggle at times on the defensive end. But on Wednesday, they did everything it takes to play a complete game on the defensive end.

The Longhorns shot 21-for-78 from the field (26.9%). That is by far the worst a team has shot against the Cyclones. And while the Longhorns’ shooting struggles can be attributed to more their fault than Iowa State’s, Iowa State made it a priority to keep Texas off the glass and force turnovers.

Texas came into the game leading the conference with an average of 14.13 offensive rebounds per game. Although the Longhorns collected 19 offensive rebounds on Wednesday, their effort in getting them on the offensive end hurt them at the defensive end, as the rebounding margin was only one in favor of Texas.

The Cyclones also made the Longhorns turn the ball over 19 times, more than their season average of 15.96. Overall, the pace that Iowa State played sped up Texas and led to its offensive struggles.

Iowa State’s offensive performance was below average. The team shot 6-21 (28.6%) from behind the three-point line and 21-50 (42%) overall shooting, both which are below its season averages. 

Iowa State guard Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw dribbles the ball in the corner against Southern on Nov. 7. The Cyclones beat the Jaguars 69-36.

Turnover issues

If there’s one thing holding back the Cyclones from reaching that next tier, it is turnovers. Iowa State turned the ball over 26 times against the Longhorns on Wednesday, fitting the theme of the nagging turnover issue the Cyclones have faced.

Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw led the team with six turnovers against the Longhorns. One thing the Cyclones have been trying to focus on is to slow down at times on offense and push when the opportunity comes.

But sometimes Iowa State has a tendency to force issues and it makes the matters worse. Part of that can be attributed to the youth of the guard position, with Espenmiller-McGraw being a freshman and Jade Thurmon in her second year at the Division I level. Ashley Joens, another primary ball handler, also is only a sophomore.

At this point, turnovers have become part of the team’s identity, it is just a matter of limiting them. 

Iowa State guard/forward Ashley Joens reads the court against the Texas Southern women’s basketball team at their game on Nov. 7 at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones won 79-59.

Implications for future

With Texas out of the way, the Cyclones’ win streak stands at three. Iowa State firmly holds onto the fourth spot in the Big 12 Conference. But they are coming after the Longhorns for third

In the latest ESPN Bracketology, the Cyclones came in at 11 seed. The Cyclones have a chance for another revenge game on Sunday at the TCU Horned Frogs.

A win against TCU could move the Cyclones up in ESPN’s rankings. But even with a loss against TCU, Iowa State’s stock moved up in the eyes of the experts with the Texas game.

Source: Iowa State Daily