Coming into Sunday’s matchup versus the Northern Iowa Panthers, the Iowa State Cyclones had not beaten an in-state opponent all season.
The Cyclones looked well on their way to changing that, as they held a 55-47 lead with 8:15 left in the game. However, the Cyclones lost control of its lead as the Panthers outscored them 24-8, thanks to ten Cyclone turnovers in the final eight minutes of the game, resulting in a 71-63 loss for the Cyclones.
“It was like they punched us in the mouth and we kinda recoiled instead of coming back,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said.
What made things difficult for Iowa State offensively was UNI’s defense that caused them to commit 21 turnovers.
In the second half, Northern Iowa switched from man-to-man defense to a half-court trap defense.
“We were able to give them something that they hadn’t seen before,” junior Northern Iowa guard Karli Rucker said.
The Cyclones committed seven turnovers in the fourth quarter, which helped the Panthers outscore the Cyclones 24-8 in the final eight minutes of the game.
According to Fennelly, his team did not execute the plan they had for this defense coming into the game.
“The plan was to make one pass, drive it at them because they foul a lot… and open up the court, but we didn’t do it. Obviously, that’s my responsibility to make them (his players) do it,” Fennelly said. “We kinda stood there and played catch.”
Northern Iowa’s defense forced Iowa State to commit turnovers, which is something that they have been struggling with all season.
Coming into Sunday’s game, Iowa State had a below-average turnover per game average of 16.4, which put them at 181 out of 349. Northern Iowa forced Iowa State to commit 21 turnovers.
Northern Iowa outscored Iowa State 23-15 in points off turnovers and they won the game by eight points.
Before their poor fourth quarter, Iowa State played a clean game offensively for the most part.
Iowa State started the game off well with a 19-15 lead at the end of the first quarter, freshman guard Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw led them in scoring with eight points at the end of the first quarter.
The Cyclones committed eight turnovers in the second quarter, which the Panthers took advantage of as they outscored the Cyclones 23-15 in the second quarter and held a 38-34 lead at halftime.
UNI’s offense couldn’t build upon its halftime lead. It only scored nine points in the fourth quarter. Iowa State took advantage of UNI’s poor offense and took a 49-47 lead at the end of the third quarter, thanks to a buzzer-beating three by junior guard Rae Johnson.
However, Iowa State couldn’t keep the momentum in the fourth quarter thanks to a shooting of 26 and scoring drought of 6:40 and Northern Iowa won 71-63.
Sunday’s win is the Panther‘s first win ever in Ames.
Iowa State is now 0-3 this season versus in-state opponents (Drake, Iowa and Northern Iowa).