Cyclones put away TCU in Big 12 road opener

FORT WORTH, Texas – The Cyclones’ last trip to Daniel-Meyer Coliseum ended in a stunning three-point defeat.

Iowa State didn’t leave things up to chance this time around.

Outscoring the Horned Frogs 15-3 over the final 3:44, the No. 14 Cyclones pulled away for a 71-49 victory in the Big 12 Conference season opener Thursday.

Nicole Blaskowsky scored 24 points off the bench with seven 3-pointers and nine rebounds to spark the Cyclones (12-0, 1-0), who matched the best start in school history. The sophomore made 7-of-15 from beyond the arc and Iowa State connected on a season-best 15 3-pointers.

“The goal was to make more threes than we had turnovers,” said ISU coach Bill Fennelly. “We didn’t quite get there but that was the way we needed to play against them. It was a pretty good effort from start to finish.”

Hallie Christofferson added her fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds and Nikki Moody tallied 13 points and seven boards, as ISU equaled the wins standard set by the 1995-96 and 2001-02 squads. ISU made 15-of-36 from deep (42 percent) to overcome 19 turnovers.

TCU (9-4, 0-1) had won its previous eight games at home this season and fended off a rally by ISU last year to secure one of its two wins in conference play.

Iowa State didn’t need a second half rally this time.

Trailing 25-21 with 5:11 left in the first half, the Cyclones closed on a 17-5 run including four treys from Blaskowsky to secure a 38-30 lead at the break.

“You live and die from the 3-point line but we have kids that that’s their best shot, so you’ve got to let them do it,” said Fennelly.

“Nikki hit some big ones early and that got everyone loosened up a little bitWe seemed to make them when we had to have them.”

Moody was playing just 17 miles from her hometown of Euless, Texas, and scored the Cyclones first nine points – all on 3-pointers – as ISU drained 10 triples in the first half for the second straight game. Blaskowsky made six in the first half and three in the final three minutes to spring ISU to the lead.

“When you see it you’ve got to go for it,” said Blaskowsky of ISU’s 3-point attack against the TCU zone.

“You can’t settle even if you miss a shot. If one shot doesn’t go in, you have to focus on the next one. I’ve just been taking pride in that and trying to find my role on this team.”

The Horned Frogs hung around through the second half and pulled within 54-45 on Chelsea Prince’s layup near the five-minute mark before Latricia Lovings’ free throw trimmed the deficit to 10 with 3:24 left. Christofferson answered with a trey and Blaskowsky added a 3-point play as the Cyclones created plenty of breathing room down the stretch.

Zahna Medley paced TCU with 22 points as the Horned Frogs shot just 29 percent from the field, made just half of its 30 free throw attempts and shot 2-for-14 from deep.

Iowa State outrebounded TCU 56-25, though the home team stayed in the game with its defense by dominating in steals (10-1), blocks (8-0) and forced turnovers (19-5). Chelsea Prince added nine points and Jada Butts had eight for the Horned Frogs, who had their five-game win streak snapped.

Seanna Johnson had nine points and a team-high 13 rebounds, while Brynn Williamson also scored nine for the Cyclones.

Iowa State finishes its two-game road swing against No. 25 Oklahoma on Sunday at 1 p.m.