Just like the men's team before them, the Iowa State women's basketball team was riding high after a win streak put them among the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee's preliminary top 16 seeds.
Unfortunately for the Cyclone women, much like the men's team, they too were brought back to reality after a tough loss to TCU.
Now, likely on the outside of the top 16 seeds, the Cyclones will look to get back on track after a poor shooting performance against the Horned Frogs doomed the team. While senior Bridget Carleton was again spectacular with a season-high 34 points, the team around her, save for sophomore Kristin Scott, struggled to capitalize on what appeared to be solid scoring opportunities.
"I think the simple analysis of the game for me would be a team, TCU, beat Bridget Carleton," said head coach Bill Fennelly after Wednesday's loss. "We had a lot of kids that just had a tough night."
The loss was somewhat reminiscent of certain losses from the 2017-18 season, in which Carleton would have great individual scoring performances but the team around her failed to pick up the slack.
However, tough shooting performances happen in basketball for pretty much every team, and team shooting has been one of Iowa State's strengths the entire year. That's likely one reason Fennelly didn't sound too worried about the loss, but Fennelly added he's confident the team will bounce back because of the mental toughness and accountability of his players.
"You've got to figure out a way to get to the next one," Fennelly said. "Luckily with this team, you don't have to say a whole lot. They get it."
For Iowa State, the next one will be on Saturday afternoon against Oklahoma State, a team the Cyclones defeated by 13 points on the road less than a month ago.
In that game, the Cyclones got their best individual performance from any player this entire season when Kristin Scott went for 31 points on 11-for-11 shooting. Scott became only the third Cyclone ever to go at least 10-for-10 or better in a game with the performance, and she also earned a double-double by adding 12 rebounds to her stat line.
Fennelly looked back on that particular game with a bit of uneasiness. This is due to the fact that the Cyclones, as a team, let up significantly in the second half of a game that initially looked like a blowout.
Iowa State held a 27-point lead at halftime against the Cowgirls, but Oklahoma State chipped away by outscoring the Cyclones 28-12 in the third quarter. Oklahoma State even got to within single digits at one point, and Fennelly acknowledged the Cowgirls will be a handful if his team isn't locked in.
"They're a team that's always been hard for us," Fennelly said of Oklahoma State. "Vivian Gray put 30 on us the first time, (Braxtin) Miller can really score, they've changed their lineup a little bit, but they always defend really well and they're very personnel-driven."
What helps for Iowa State is that Saturday's game will be at home, where the team tends to play with significantly more energy and urgency. It's a big reason why the Cyclones are 14-1 this season at home, with the only loss coming to No. 11 Texas by two points.
Fennelly has repeatedly acknowledged the crowd for their role in that increased energy, but also said the team is motivated by the failures of last season, when the Cyclones went 7-8 at Hilton Coliseum.
That left a bitter taste in the team's mouth all offseason, and Fennelly hasn't let the team forget about it. He even said the team has a list hanging on a fridge of opponents that came into Hilton last season and beat the Cyclones.
One of those opponents was Oklahoma State, and Fennelly said the team will be motivated to bounce back because of that, as well as the loss on Wednesday.
"(Oklahoma State is) the next team on the schedule that came in here and beat us last year," Fennelly said. "That's been one of those little goals of ours, to not lose again to the same team that we lost to at home last year, and except for Texas in that two-point game, we've done a good job of that."