Any coach in the nation that you encounter, in any sport, will tell you that you don’t win games if you let your opponent get into a groove doing what they do well.
Simply put, that’s what the K-State women’s basketball team let happen Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.
In the last 19 seasons, no team in women’s basketball has attempted or made more three-point shots than Iowa State. Unfortunately for the Wildcats (11-5, 1-4), they found this out the hard way, allowing the Cyclones (12-4, 3-2) to make 14 shots from behind the arc, leading to a 79-59 Iowa State victory.
It started with one shot for the Cyclones, then two, then three. And when the three’s really started falling in bunches for the visitors, the Wildcats seemingly self-destructed.
It wasn’t as if this was the first time K-State saw firsthand how good Iowa State’s shooters really are. Just two weeks ago, the Wildcats allowed the Cyclones to pour in nine three-point shots, as they fell on the road in a close game in Ames, Iowa.
For all of the good things that K-State accomplished during the game, namely getting their post offense going, they couldn’t overcome such an overwhelming performance by Iowa State. The Wildcats outscored the Cyclones 36 to 24 in the paint, which is one of the only reasons K-State delayed the Cyclones onslaught until late in the second half.
For the second-straight game against Iowa State, the Wildcats allowed a Cyclone player to take over the game with a double-double. Senior guard Nikki Moody managed to pour in 20 points and 12 assists for the Cyclones, single-handedly matching the 12 assists K-State dished out as a team.
“We played every defense we have, and to Iowa State’s credit, they found the right player a lot of times against us,” K-State head coach Jeff Mittie said after the game. “I thought our group did some things that were good, but in the end Iowa State got their number one weapon (three point shooting) way to many times.”
In the final 15 minutes of the game, Iowa State went seven for 11 from three-point range, a shooting performance that effectively put any chance of a Wildcat comeback out-of-question.
“We shot the ball well in the second half,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said. “I thought we spread the court a little better, our spacing was better. Usually that happens with our team if we make shots, a lot of the time it is a three.”
To illustrate the kind of shooting night Iowa State had down the stretch, K-State trailed by just one point midway through the second half. The Cyclones went on a 13-3 run to extend the lead and break down the Wildcats’ defense.
“In that 13-3 run, we had like 10 shots to their six. We missed some shots that we need to hit in that stretch,” Mittie said. “We actually talked about that in one of the timeouts, but they had stretched (the run) out.”
Meanwhile, the first half of the contest was a back-and-forth battle between both teams. K-State seemed sluggish away from the basket, going zero for three from three-point range. The Wildcats did find success down around the basket, however, scoring 22 of their 35 first-half points in the paint.
“Our first eight post touches, were scored on seven of them. That’s a number that we got to take as a positive from this game,” Mittie said. “There were some positives in this game that get kind of lost in that fact that Iowa State shot it so well and ends up with a big victory.”
After starting the game with a slew of turnovers, the Cyclones finally managed to get into the groove with back-to-back three pointers by freshman guard Emily Durr off of the bench. Those six-points by Durr allowed Iowa State take the lead, and allowed them to more effectively space the floor and create shots around the basket, something that trickled late into the second half.
K-State will try to avoid its first three-game losing streak of the season Wednesday on the road against West Virginia (11-6, 1-4). Tipoff from Morgantown, West Virginia is set for 6 p.m.
Sophomore forward Breanna Lewis led the team with 15 points. Junior guard Deborah Meeks added 10 points. On the other bench, Iowa State went a perfect 11 for 11 from the free throw line and led for 27 minutes.