By Rob Gray
AMES — They were tough and gritty.
They played with poise with the game on the line.
Sound like No. 23 Iowa State in front of a boisterous Hilton Coliseum crowd?
Not this time.
Wednesday, those words described the visitors — the TCU Horned Frogs — who stunned the Cyclones 61-60 before 10,028 irked fans.
“Losing by one at home, you never know if it could have been the first play of the game or that last one,” said ISU’s Brynn Williamson, who drained a career high-tying six 3-pointers.
Wednesday, late moments stood out.
TCU (13-9, 4-6) took the lead on Donielle Breaux’s unguarded 3-pointer with 5.3 seconds left.
The Horned Frogs had made one long-range basket to that point, but one unexecuted defensive switch provided her with open space.
“It actually shocked me,” Breaux said. “I didn’t realize I was going to be that wide open.”
One last chance remained for ISU (16-6, 5-6).
The Cyclones inbounded the ball to point guard Nikki Moody, who drove the length of the floor, appeared to draw contact, but instead was ruled to have been tied up with 0.3 ticks remaining.
Possession arrow: Horned Frogs.
The crowd and the Cyclones’ reaction: What?
“They called a jump ball,” ISU coach Bill Fennelly said. “That’s what they called. It doesn’t matter what I see.”
TCU used zone pressure to control Cyclones forward Hallie Christofferson, who scored 11 points on 4 of 13 shooting from the field.
Sometimes the Horned Frogs double-teamed her.
Sometimes the league’s top shot blocker, Latricia Lovings played her straight up.
“Two games against them, Hallie’s really struggled,” Fennelly said. “(Lovings) blocks her shot. I think that was part of the reason you saw Hallie travel two or three times, because I think she was kind of in between decision-making.”
TCU’s zone helped coax 16 turnovers, but the strategy was almost thwarted by Williamson’s hot shooting.
She finished with 18 points on 6 of 13 shooting from beyond the arc.
Jadda Buckley added 11 and Seanna Johnson chipped in 10, including two clutch two free throws that gave the Cyclones a 60-58 lead with 18 seconds left and set the stage for the Horned Frogs’ breakthrough.
“Wins here are precious,” TCU coach Jeff Mittie said.
As for how ISU will respond?“We’ve got a monster schedule coming up,” Fennelly said. “It’s hard to tell. It really is. It starts with and falls on your older kids because they’ve been through it. But we’ll see.”