The Iowa State Cyclones fell short to the Texas A&M Aggies after an overtime thriller, which saw them defeated at the buzzer.
After defeating Michigan State in the first round 79-75, the Cyclones faced two-seeded Texas A&M and fell 84-82 to the Aggies after being in control for nearly the entire game.
The Cyclones were able to control most of the game thanks to their 3-point shooting, which helped them hold the lead until the start of the fourth quarter. The Cyclones were locked in from beyond the arc, having shot 53 percent on 16-30 shooting.
Iowa State started off hot shooting 6-7 from downtown in the first quarter, as all of their points came from the perimeter. While the Cyclones were able to drain shots from 3-point range at will, they were also able to hold the Aggies to just four 3-pointers all game.
Head Coach Bill Fennelly mentioned how the 3-point performance against the Aggies was expected given the way the team likes to play.
“We’re a 3-point shooting team, obviously,” Fennelly said. “We like to spread the court, we have a lot of kids who can make shots and we had some kids make some big ones tonight. We shot it really well, we shot free throws well and that’s how we need to play.”
The Cyclones went 8-12 for 3 in the first half and 7-14 in the second half, which saw them start to pull away in the third quarter as they built a 12-point lead, the largest in the game.
Iowa State had six players contribute to their impressive 3-point performance against Texas A&M, but it wasn’t enough to defeat the Aggies.
Ashley Joens, Lexi Donarski, Emily Ryan, Kristin Scott, Kylie Feuerbach and Aubrey Joens all played their part in the hot shooting from beyond the arc, but it was Ashley Joens who stood out.
Ashley Joens finished with a double-double of 32 points and 18 rebounds, going 4-7 from 3, and was the driving force behind the Cyclones holding the lead and staying in the game in overtime.
Fennelly mentioned how Ashley Joens had continued to lead the Cyclones team all year long and how tonight she proved it on a national stage.
“Anyone who has watched Ashley Joens play in this tournament and doesn’t think she’s one of the best players in the country needs to look at other sports,” Fennelly said. “The weight of this team is on her back every single night, and she just keeps playing. She’s amazing, absolutely amazing.”
Despite the performance from 3 and from Joens, the Cyclones' turnovers were costly in the loss. The Cyclones turned the ball over 24 times to the Aggies' seven, and the Aggies were able to score 26 points off of those turnovers.
Fennelly believed the turnovers were a bit much and were part of the reason the Cyclones fell.
“We turned the ball over too many times,” Fennelly said. “We knew we would turn it over, but I think 24 times is a lot, but you have to give A&M credit, they were so aggressive.”
With this loss, Fennelly felt this team was one of the best he has ever coached and mentioned how the locker room won’t be the same after this season.
“It hurts a lot, and I’m dying inside that I can’t coach them tomorrow,” Fennelly said. “This team is special, and I’ll remember this forever.”