Cyclone women nearly pull off upset
AMES — No. 6 Mississippi State found itself five minutes away from its first loss — and a big one at that.
The Bulldogs showed their character down the stretch, surviving a tough road environment to stay unbeaten.
Morgan William scored 24 points, Victoria Vivians had 16 and Mississippi State overcame a 17-point deficit to beat Iowa State 85-81 in overtime Saturday.
Roshunda Johnson’s 3-pointer with 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter forced overtime for the Bulldogs (8-0), who trailed by 11 with 4:49 left.
“We still have work to do,” William said. “We came out flat, but most important was (that) we fought through adversity.”
Mississippi State controlled the overtime, but it took four free throws by William with the final 15 seconds to seal the win.
The underdog Cyclones (5-1) played like the favorites for much of regulation, outscoring Mississippi State 28-13 in the second quarter to go up 43-26 at halftime.
But the Bulldogs cut it to 70-68 with 36 seconds left on William’s 3, and Johnson’s contested 3 from the elbow gave them a chance to steal a big win on the road.
“That what great players do. They want to be in that moment and have the opportunity,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. “After that…our kids practice really hard. Anything that goes longer than 40 minutes, we’re kind of built for.”
Seanna Johnson had 21 points with eight rebounds for Iowa State. Jadda Buckley added 19 points and 11 assists. The Cyclones were 10 of 15 from 3-point range, but they also had 18 turnovers.
“I’m not upset with anyone. I know they played as hard as they could,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “We ran out of gas down the stretch.”
THE BIG PICTURE
Mississippi State: Schaefer might regret scheduling eight consecutive games away from Starkville for a team with the Final Four in its sights. This was the fourth game of that stretch, and Mississippi State looked little like the team that entered play 35-8 since the start of last season — until the final 15 minutes. That’s when the Bulldogs, aided by a cold stretch from Iowa State, took control. “We looked like we still had one foot left stuck in Hawaii,” Schaefer said, referencing last week’s successful trip to the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu.
Iowa State: The Cyclones had their first losing season since 2003 last season. If they keep playing like this, they might push for an upper-division Big 12 finish. Iowa State created open shots with excellent ball movement, overcame its lack of size by attacking the defensive glass and made the most of their forced turnovers. Fennelly’s decision to milk the clock rather than attack late ruined his team’s offensive flow.
Mississippi State never reached as high as sixth until this week. Voters know that playing in Ames is never easy, so the Bulldogs could end up staying where they are.
PIVOTAL MOMENTS? NOT SO MUCH
Buckley drilled 3s from the left elbow to back-to-back possessions to put the Cyclones ahead 39-22, and Bridget Carleton added another 3 with 6:34 left that put Iowa State on top 64-53. All three seemed to bury the Bulldogs. But they shot 77 percent in the fourth quarter, and Seanna Johnson’s missed free throw with 21 seconds left kept the deficit at 3.
HE SAID IT
“That whole first half, they just stuck it down our throat and made us like it,” Schaefer said
Mississippi State plays at Southern Miss on Dec. 10. The Golden Eagles entered Saturday at 6-1 — but they haven’t played anyone nearly as talented as the Bulldogs.
Iowa State won’t get much time to recover from this loss. The Cyclones host New Orleans on Sunday.