NEW YORK — For the vast majority of the second half, ISU freshman guard Monte Morris drew UConn's all-American star Shabazz Napier on defense.
Something to smile about — despite the Cyclones' heart-wrenching 81-76 NCAA tournament East regional semifinal loss Friday — when pondering the future.
Napier drilled his first four 3-pointers against ISU, helping stake the Huskies (29-8) to a 36-26 halftime lead.
After the break, he hit just one field goal try, but did drain key free throws down the stretch when the Cyclones (28-8) fouled while trying to rally yet again.
"It's just heart," said Morris, who made 5 of 8 field goal tries and finished with 12 points and four assists. "Just trying to do the best I can. He crossed (over) me about two times, but, hey, I just tried to do whatever I could. A crossover ain't worth points. So, tried to slow him down and use my quickness."
Speaking off quickness, ISU sixth man Naz Long showed some in a late trap with UConn leading 70-65.
He thought he'd tied up the Huskies' Kevin Boatright, but instead he drew a foul.
Morris said the whistle was unwarranted.
"It's just the bounce of the ball," he said. "I knew it was a bad call, but I just looked at the ref and winked at him and said, 'Good call.' Hopefully we'd get something down the stretch back in our favor. We didn't. It was tough, heartbreaking, the way the ball went (Friday). It wasn't in our favor."
KANE SEES UPSIDE: ISU star senior DeAndre Kane will be chasing NBA and/or professional basketball dreams next season, but he put future foes on notice.
Foes of his former teammates, that is.
"Look forward for the Cyclones next year," said Kane, who scored 16 points, grabbed nine rebonds and dished out eight assists.
ISU returns starters in Dustin Hogue (career-high 34 points), Morris (two steals), Georges Niang (24 points in second-round win over North Carolina Central, plus players with starting experience such as Matt Thomas and Daniel Edozie.
Plus, there's front-line transfers Abdel Nader and Jameel McKay, and incoming freshman Clayton Duster.
15-FOOT TRIALS: Iowa State shot just 6 of 15 from the line and shot eight more first-half free throws than UConn. Kane made just 2 of 9 from the stripe. The Huskies, meanwhile, sank 20 of 22.
"We like being in that position," said Napier, who made 5 of 6. "We feel like we have enough confidence to take our tie and make the shot."
As for Kane, fellow star senior Melvin Ejim (3 of 13 from the field) and ISU ...
"We had some guys that hit shots all year that just didn't fall (Friday)," Cyclones Coach Fred Hoiberg said. "And that's the way it goes. Unfortunately in the game of basketball you have nights where that basket looks (huge) and sometimes it looks like a little thimble. Unfortunately a few of our guys had that type of night."