By Rob Gray
AMES — Iowa State held the leading scorer in the nation to zero points for 28 minutes.
Weirdness reigned Tuesday at Hilton Coliseum, as the No. 21 Cyclones showed grit and resilience against Odyssey Sims and ninth-ranked Baylor, but couldn't find enough firepower to avoid a 70-54 senior night setback that played out before a crowd of 10,539.
“We never could get the shot, the play, to feel like you’ve got a chance to make them uncomfortable,” ISU Coach Bill Fennelly said.
Sims — arguably the best player in the women’s game — entered Tuesday averaging a dizzying 30.2 points.
She finished with 11, or 13 fewer than she scored two weeks ago in an 89-51 rout of the Cyclones in Waco.
“We wanted to make her a volume shooter,” Fennelly said. “I thought we did a good job of that.”
Sims’ uncharacteristic lack of production, which stemmed partly from a sore shoulder, helped ISU (20-9, 9-9) stay close for much of the game.
The Cyclones pulled within five, at 34-29, on Nikki Moody’s 3-pointer with 18:08 left, but the Lady Bears slowly pulled away and led by double digits the final 12:39.
“We just needed to step up and make shots when (Sims) wasn’t,” said ISU forward Hallie Christofferson, who scored 14 points while playing only 19 minutes because of foul trouble. “That was the difference.”
Moody led ISU with 17 points, while Seanna Johnson grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.
Baylor (26-4, 16-2) outrebounded the Cyclones 48-32 and clinched a share of its fourth straight Big 12 title.
But Sims was so off-kilter she missed her first 11 field goal attempts.
Cue freshman Nina Davis, who scored 26 points — 13 above her average — on 11 of 19 shooting.
“I knew (Sims) was off at the beginning,” Davis said. “Everybody wanted it. Everybody just kind of picked up the slack.”
Everybody for ISU looks to pick up a few more wins in the next several days.
The fifth-seeded Cyclones open Big 12 Tournament play at 11 a.m. Saturday against No. 4 seed Oklahoma State.
ISU, which as almost certainly assured of its eighth straight NCAA Tournament bid, beat the Cowgirls 86-69 a week ago at Stillwater.“Our philosophy here is always to segment things,” Fennelly said. “The regular season’s over. We’re 20-9. We’re proud of what we did. And now the Big 12 Tournament’s a total separate entity. Whether it’s one game or three games, we’ll enjoy the experience.”