Lady Bears lock down ISU, 66-51
AMES – Odyssey Sims was in high school the last time the Cyclones beat Baylor three years ago.
Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly jokingly pointed to the fact in his press conference this week, when discussing his team’s most recent victory over the Lady Bears.
On Wednesday night, it was no laughing matter as the Baylor guard was front and center in ruining Iowa State’s chances at a repeat performance.
Forcing Iowa State floor general Nikki Moody into a 1-for-10, 10-turnover outing, Sims and the top-rated Lady Bears pounced on 13-first half turnovers and an 11 and a half minute scoring drought to upend No. 25 Iowa State 66-51 at Hilton Coliseum.
“Odyssey Sims is the best on-ball defender I have ever seen,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “She just changes the game.”
Brittney Griner led Baylor (17-1, 7-0) to its 15th straight victory with 22 points and eight rebounds though it was the Lady Bears’ swarming defense that put the Cyclones (13-4, 4-3) in too deep a hole and snapped their nine-game home win streak.
“Every time we made a mistake, they capitalized and that’s what great teams do,” said Fennelly, whose team was outscored 17-3 in points off turnovers in the opening stanza.
“We just could not find a way to stop them.”
That, and another dismal stretch of shooting.
The Cyclones, who endured an eight-minute drought in their loss to Oklahoma State Sunday, converted just 6-of-24 field goals in the first half and missed 11 straight shots during their latest dry spell.
Anna Prins and Hallie Christofferson hit back-to-back 3s to give Iowa State a 6-4 edge at the 17:34 mark, before the Bears pounced on 10 Cyclone turnovers to score the next 17 points and grab a 21-6 advantage.
Iowa State committed 13 turnovers in the half including seven from Moody, who was coming off a 1-for-8, seven turnover outing against Oklahoma State Sunday.
Frustrated with his team’s effort of coming to the ball, Fennelly felt about half of Moody’s 10 turnovers weren’t her fault – though there was no explanation for another dismal offensive outing.
“You’ve got to make some shots and that’s the thing we continue to struggle with,” Fennelly said. “They call it basketball for a reason. The ball’s got to start going in the basket.”
Iowa State finished 18-of-50 from the field (36 percent) and shot just 6-for-22 from behind the arc (27.3 percent).
Christofferson’s jumper stemmed the dry spell with 6:05 left and she added another late bucket to bring the Cyclones within 28-16, before Sims nailed a 3 to beat the buzzer.
Following two quick fouls from Griner, Iowa State pulled within 12 once more at 43-31 on a layup from Chelsea Poppens with 11:06 remaining. Griner responded with a three-point play and Baylor scored six unanswered to reestablish their cushion as Iowa State never got as close the rest of the way.
Griner picked up her fourth foul with just less than 7 minutes to play, but Alexis Prince took Sims over with an 11-3 run to close it out. Prince finished with 11 points and made 3-of-4 from deep, while Sims finished with 12 points, four assists and three steals.
Iowa State held its own inside as Baylor earned just a four point edge (24-20) on points in the paint after dominating the Cyclones by a 50-0 margin in their previous meeting two weeks ago. Both squads finished with 35 rebounds.
Keeping the Lady Bears off the line was a goal Fennelly stressed to his team beforehand, but Baylor made 18-of-24, while limiting the Cyclones to 9-of-11.
Prins led the Cyclones with 17 points, while Brynn Williamson added 11 points – including a 3-for-6 effort from deep. Christofferson chipped in nine points before fouling out, while Poppens and Williamson each grabbed nine boards.
With Baylor behind them, Iowa State knows they have an opportunity to turn things around quickly.
“We have two huge games to finish out January,” said Prins. “It’s important we come back refocused.”
The Cyclones face West Virginia (11-7, 3-4) on the road Saturday at 6 p.m.
Iowa State had won its last nine games at Hilton Coliseum and 10 consecutive Big 12 games. It’s last Big 12 home loss was against Texas A&M on Jan. 14, 2012. … Iowa State is 1-4 when trailing at halftime.