AMES — There were incensed, drum-like stomps, plus a couple suit jacket tosses.
And that was just from the Iowa State coaches.
But in the end — after a wild, physical, thrill-and-groan-a-minute Big 12 game Monday against Oklahoma State — Cyclone coach Bill Fennelly clenched in a heartfelt embrace with son and assistant, Billy, victorious and avenged.
Both had angrily peeled off their coats earlier.
Yet both celebrated a 13-point second-half comeback that somehow carried ISU to a 73-70 senior night win before 10,661 often irate, but ultimately elated fans at Hilton Coliseum.
“It’s exactly what we wanted to do,” said ISU’s Hallie Christofferson, who scored a team-best 21 points. “Hilton magic showed up.”
The Cyclones (21-7, 12-6) clinched the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, which begins Friday in Dallas.
ISU opens play Saturday at 6 p.m. against the winner of the 10-7 seed game.
“It makes a huge statement,” Cyclone senior Anna Prins said of attaining the No. 2 seed.
But enough about the future.
How about Monday night?
Oklahoma State (20-9, 9-9) built a 43-30 lead with 18:38 left.
But the Cyclones finally mounted a run, scoring 14 of the next 17 points to trail 46-44 with 12:17 remaining.
Two Brynn Williamson 3-pointers fueled the rally, but the Cowgirls — who won the previous meeting, 71-42, and, as Fennelly pointed out this week, “enjoyed themselves doing it” — always seemed to have an answer.
Mainly, they came from forward Kendra Suttles, who scored 14 of her game-high 26 points in the second half.
Her layup with 8:05 left pushed Oklahoma State’s lead back to seven at 55-48, but it was ISU’s turn to answer.
This time, decisively, if tenuously.
Christofferson capped a 20-10 run with a 3-pointer with 2:49 left.
“I could see where the defender was,” Christofferson said. “I had time and could set my feet.”
The Cowgirls would tie the score twice more, but never led again.
And their bench drew a technical with 42 seconds left.
ISU’s Anna Prins, Christofferson and Nikki Moody made 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch and Oklahoma State’s Liz Donohoe missed a well-guarded 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Cue the celebration — minus one fan, who embattled officials had ordered removed in the second half.
“That’s kind of what I imagine winning state in high school was like,” Chelsea Poppens said. “I never really got that. We were all jumping around. It was so much fun to play that kind of a game with that much pressure on you and come out on top.”
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