AMES — Perfection never lasts.
That’s why when the ninth-ranked Iowa State women’s basketball team’s unblemished 14-0 mark turned into 14-1 Saturday in a 69-62 Big 12 loss to No. 15 Oklahoma State, Cyclones Coach Bill Fennelly offered a heartfelt apology.
“We had another phenomenal crowd and we’ve worked really really hard to build a fan base that is ultra-loyal,” Fennelly said. “They didn’t see what they needed to see and deserved to see.”
What the 10,505 boisterous fans who filled Hilton Coliseum saw: A talented Cowgirls team execute its game plan nearly flawlessly.
The strategy hinged on taking away good looks behind the 3-point line.
ISU (14-1, 3-1) hit a season-low three long-range baskets while missing 14.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” Fennelly said. “They switch a lot of screens. We anticipated that. When they switched them, we did a great job in the first half — we shot 21 free throws. And we said, ‘Just drive it at them when they switch.’ All of a sudden we just decided not to.”
Tiffany Bias led the Cowgirls (14-1, 3-1) with 22 points and furnished fast-paced answers both times the Cyclones pulled within three points in the final 1:18.
“She’s quicker than quick so she’s hard to stay in front of,” Fennelly said. “She’s 8-for-11 (on field goals). She doesn’t turn the ball over. She’s an all-Big 12 caliber player and everyone knows it.”
So is ISU forward Hallie Christofferson, who lodged her fifth double-double of the season with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
But Christofferson — who Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell deemed the second best player in the league behind Baylor star Odyssey Sims — battled foul trouble.
She drew her fourth whistle with 7:38 left, headed to the bench and saw her teammates struggle.
“We kind of lost it as a team,” said guard Brynn Williamson, who sank 1 of 6 3-pointers. “Hallie gets her fourth foul and it’s totally like four deer in the headlights out there. Like, how are we going to score?”
Seanna Johnson added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Cyclones, who face West Virginia — the only team to beat Oklahoma State — Wednesday at home.
“You can’t look back,” Christofferson said. “You still have the rest of the season left.”
And at 14-1, the future hasn’t dimmed.
“When you have stuff in life, you make a choice,” Fennelly said. “You make it better or you feel sorry for yourself. And I don’t think West Virginia’s going to feel sorry for us, so we’ve got to get better.”
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