AMES — The turning point lasted a matter of seconds.
Iowa State seemed to finally be rolling early in the second half of Tuesday’s Big 12 game against Oklahoma, as the Cyclones pulled within 36-35 on Hallie Christofferson’s short jumper.
But the Sooners weren’t having it.
An uncontested Gioya Carter layup, followed by a a sneaky steal by Aaryn Ellenberg and subsequent uncontested Carter putback, restored a dominant order Oklahoma established early.
Poof went No. 17 (USA Today coaches poll) ISU’s momentum.
And thud went the Cyclones, who tumbled to their fourth straight loss, 75-54, before a crowd of 10,121 at Hilton Coliseum.
“We just never could recover,” ISU Coach Bill Fennelly said.
The Cyclones saw a home losing streak hit three games for the first time since the 2003-04 season.
Their overall skid of four straight is the longest since a five-game slump that started the 2011-12 Big 12 season — and comes on the heels of a school-record 14-game win streak.
“I feel like we try but we don’t try hard enough,” said ISU’s Nikki Moody, who scored a team-high 18 points.
So what happened?
More importantly, how to fix it — and where to start?
“We’ll try to make some changes, but people don’t like to hear this: sometimes the players gotta change,” Fennelly said after his team made just 4 of 26 3-point shots. “This is unacceptable. We didn’t play well tonight at home, three straight losses at home, which doesn’t happen here very often. … So, some soul searching to do. We’ll see. This is life, man, and we’re going to find out who wants to bow up and fight through it.”
The aforementioned turning point spurred a 19-3 run by Oklahoma (12-7, 3-3), which avenged an 82-75 overtime home loss to the Cyclones earlier this month.
“They came out swinging,” Sooners Coach Sherri Coale said of her team.
ISU came out missing.
Tuesday’s 3-point shooting struggles made the Cyclones 9 of their last 63 from distance at Hilton.
That’s 14.3 percent — and, Fennelly said, puts too much pressure on the defensive end.
“It’s the same stuff with us,” he said.
That’s included foul trouble lately.
Forward Hallie Christofferson drew her fifth whistle with 7:42 left.
She finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Guard Jadda Buckley — who scored a career-best 29 at Norman — took two shots in 28 minutes, missing both.
“To shoot the ball twice in 28 minutes when you shoot the ball as well as she does, I don’t know,” Fennelly said. “It’s gone from kind of a joke to it’s not funny anymore. So, we’ll see. At the end of the day she’s the one that’s got to do it and we’ll see if she wants to or not.”
Same goes for all of ISU’s players, who seek to get back on track Saturday at Texas Tech.
“We’ve just got to be tough on the floor,” Moody said. “We’ve got to go out there with an attitude that we’re better than the other team and we’re going to play harder and we’re going to win.”
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