No. 8 Texas skid continues with 58-57 loss to Iowa State
AUSTIN, Texas (AP)—A little more than two weeks ago, the Texas Longhorns were off to their best start in 29 years and the program’s highest national ranking since 2004.
They were 13-0, No. 3 in the poll, and angling to become a national power again.
Texas has since lost four of its last five games, including a 58-57 defeat by Iowa State on Sunday. The No. 8 Longhorns seem sure to drop in the rankings on Monday, having lost at Baylor earlier this week by 17 points.
“This was a really, really, really tough loss,” coach Karen Aston said Sunday. “We’ve put ourselves in a pretty big hole. I’m obviously concerned about their psyche.”
Iowa State fell into a hole itself on Sunday, but the Cyclones used some reliable assets to pull themselves out after trailing by nine points in the second half.
Senior guard Nikki Moody made two free throws with 17.5 second remaining for the margin of victory.
“There wasn’t any panic,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said.
Texas freshman Brooke McCarty then missed a 3-point attempt with two seconds remaining.
“Honestly, I thought it was going to go in,” McCarty said.
Texas played its first full game without senior forward Nneka Enemkpali, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during the first half at Baylor. She was leading Texas in scoring and the Big 12 in rebounding.
Moody led Iowa State (14-4, 5-2 Big 12) with 14 points Sunday. Seanna Johnson added 13 points.
Center Kelsey Lang led Texas (14-4, 3-4) with 12 points, but she attempted only one shot in the second half while surrounded by defenders.
Texas took a 54-52 lead with 2:15 remaining on a 3-point basket by McCarty. Lang, swarmed by defenders inside, passed the ball out to McCarty.
After a missed jump shot by Moody, Texas forward Nekia Jones converted a three-point play with 55 seconds left.
Bryanna Fernstrom made a layup for Iowa State that left the Cyclones trailing by a point with 34 seconds left. Then Moody hit her two free throws.
Iowa State trailed by nine with a little more than 13 minutes remaining. The Cyclones needed seven minutes to overtake Texas. The lead changed hands four times during the final six minutes.
Texas committed nine turnovers in the second half, including one by Brianna Taylor that gave Iowa State the possession on which Moody created the decisive lead change.
But the Longhorns’ biggest problem might have been a penchant for fouling.
Iowa State began the day with 53 more 3-point baskets than any other team in the Big 12. To counter that, Texas focused on defending the perimeter, creating opportunities for Iowa State to drive.
Texas committed 15 fouls in the second half. Iowa State was in the bonus shooting one-and-one with 12:21 remaining. The Cyclones converted 11 of 16 free throws in the half, sub-par for a team that leads the nation in accuracy but sufficient against Texas.
“We were trying to attack,” Moody said. “We were in the bonus and we can make free throws.”
Aston said her team created a problem it failed to overcome.
“We lost by not having enough discipline to defend without fouling,” Aston said. “Then when we got in the bonus we got tentative defensively.”
Texas: The Longhorns lost an even bigger lead during a 59-57 defeat at Iowa State on Jan. 10 in Ames - 18 points late in the first half. The Cyclones made a 14-0 run bridging the two halves. Texas missed 10 straight shots during that stretch.
Iowa State: The Cyclones lead the nation in free-throw accuracy - 78.8 percent before Sunday - for the third straight season. No NCAA team in men’s or women’s basketball has led the nation for three straight full seasons. . Iowa State extended its streak of games with a 3-point basket to 630, longest in the nation.
Texas hosts Oklahoma on Thursday.
Iowa State hosts Kansas on Wednesday.
Nneka Enemkpali, the senior forward for the Longhorns who suffered a season-ending knee injury at Baylor on Monday, finished her career ranked ninth in rebounds (899) and 30th in scoring (1,116) at Texas.