Middleton, No. 19 Cyclones tame No. 21 Texas in Big 12 semis

AP PHOTO - Iowa State guard Alexa Middleton (33) shoots over Texas defender Danni Williams (3) during the second half of their semifinal game of the Big 12 Conference women’s basketball tournament Sunday in Oklahoma City. Middleton scored 24 points as ISU won 75-69.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Alexa Middleton scored 24 points, Bridget Carleton and Ashley Joens had double-doubles and the No. 19 Iowa State women’s basketball team took control down the stretch on Sunday to beat No. 21 Texas 75-69 in the Big 12 Conference Tournament semifinals.

The second-seeded Cyclones (25-7), winners of five straight, face No. 1 Baylor (30-1) on Monday night in their first championship game appearance since 2013.

Carleton, the Big 12 Player of the Year, had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Joens added 13 points and a career-high 12 boards in her first double-double.

Joyner Holmes led third-seeded Texas (23-9) with 19 points and Jatarie White added 10. Sug Sutton had 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Danni Williams also had 12 points.

The Longhorns, who never led and trailed by as many as 16 in the second quarter, overcame a four-point possession by Iowa State midway through the fourth quarter to tie the game at 64-all on a 3-pointer from the left corner by Destiny Littleton with 3:22 to play.

Joens answered with a layup, Carleton followed with a three-point play and Middleton hit a jumper to give the Cyclones a 71-64 lead with a minute left. Holmes ended the 0-for-4 drought with a basket with 59 seconds to go, but Iowa State made four straight free throws. Williams converted a three-point play with one second left.

“We just talked about staying composed, staying poised and continue to be us and who we’ve been the whole game,” said Middleton, a redshirt senior transfer from Tennessee. “We did a great job finding that extra push when we needed it and just staying together, continuing to play as a team and finishing out the game strong.”

Williams had pulled Texas within one with 5 1/2 minutes to go before Olamide Aborowa blocked a shot by Carleton. With Carleton on the floor, Aborowa apparently said something and the official beside her called a technical. Carleton made two free throws and made a layup on the inbound pass.

Iowa State raced to a 24-13 lead after one quarter by making 6 of 9 3-pointers, led by Middleton’s 3 of 3.

“[Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly] just said ‘this is why you came here,'” Middleton said, “and it is — moments like this, playing on a big stage, playing a lot of minutes. This is why I came here and I’m enjoying every minute of it.”

The lead was also 11 at the half, 43-32. Iowa State made three more 3-pointers with Middleton up to 4 of 5 and 16 points. After a 6-of-18 first quarter, the Longhorns were 9 of 14 in the second with a 10-0 run keeping them in the game. Williams and Sutton combined for UT’s last 14 points.

Texas cut the gap to five entering the fourth quarter by making 8 of 12 shots from the field while Iowa State went 2 of 12 from 3-point range.

Next up is tonight’s 8 p.m. championship game against top-ranked Baylor, which beat the Cyclones by 14 and 13 points in respective regular-season meetings.

“Someone asked me when I was walking down the hall: ‘Are you excited to play Baylor?'” Fennelly said, “and the answer’s yes because if we’re not playing [Monday], we lost [Sunday].”

No. 19 IOWA ST. 75, No. 21 TEXAS 69

At Oklahoma City

TEXAS (23-9) — White 8-10 2-2 18, Holmes 8-15 1-1 19, Sutton 6-14 0-0 12, Warren 0-2 2-2 2, Williams 5-10 2-3 12, Aborowa 0-0 0-0 0, Collier 0-2 0-0 0, Allen-Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Littleton 2-6 0-0 6. TOTALS 29-59 7-8 69.

IOWA ST. (25-7) — Wise 3-9 0-0 8, Scott 3-11 0-0 7, Carleton 6-16 3-5 17, Joens 3-7 5-6 13, Middleton 9-15 2-2 24, Burkhall 3-4 0-0 6, Camber 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 0-2 0-0 0. TOTALS 27-64 10-13 75.

Texas 13 19 21 16 — 69

Iowa St. 24 19 15 17 — 75

3-Point Goals–Texas 4-12 (Holmes 2-3, Sutton 0-1, Williams 0-2, Collier 0-1, Littleton 2-5), Iowa St. 11-28 (Wise 2-8, Scott 1-4, Carleton 2-6, Joens 2-2, Middleton 4-6, Johnson 0-2). Assists–Texas 16 (Sutton 7), Iowa St. 12 (Middleton 6). Fouled Out–None. Rebounds–Texas 38 (Sutton 8), Iowa St. 31 (Joens 12). Total Fouls–Texas 20, Iowa St. 11. Technical Fouls–Aborowa. A–3,754.