OKLAHOMA CITY – No. 19 Iowa State (25-7) is headed to the title game of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship after a dramatic 75-69 victory over No. 21 Texas (23-9) Sunday evening at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Cyclones advance to the title game for the first time since 2013 and will meet up with No. 1 Baylor Monday night at 8 p.m.
Iowa State had a fantastic first quarter to build up a 16-point lead, but Texas slowly and methodically chipped away before tying it up at 64-64 with 3:22 to play. Led by Alexa Middleton’s best game as a Cyclone, the Cyclones responded with a 7-0 run to get back ahead for good and continue their stay in Oklahoma City.
Middleton finished with a season-high 24 points, her second 20-point game of the season and her most as a Cyclone. Bridget Carleton notched 17, with seven coming in the fourth quarter, and got a double-double with 10 rebounds. Ashley Joens also had a double-double, the first of her career with 13 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
How It Happened
Like the meeting in Austin a week ago, Iowa State was ready to go from the start, as Carleton and Middleton each buried a pair of 3-pointers to help get ISU ahead 12-4. Texas’ timeout was not enough to stop the hot Cyclones as ISU went on an 8-0 run to push its lead to 22-9. The Iowa State effort, leading to a 24-13 first-quarter lead saw the Cyclone defense force six turnovers to go with the 52.9 percent shooting effort.
Scott and Joens hit 3-pointers early in the quarter to help open the ISU lead to 16 points at 32-16. Texas immediately countered with an 10-0 run to bring the Cyclone lead down to single digits at 32-26. A crucial Middleton 3-pointer helped bring the ISU lead back into double figures. The redshirt senior finished the first half with 16 points, plus a dime to Carleton for a lay-in in the final seconds to give ISU a 43-32 halftime lead.
Both teams’ offense was on point to start the second half, but it was the Cyclone offense which slowed down first. ISU went on a run of just one made bucket in 11 tries, allowing Texas back within three on a Joyner Holmes 3-pointer at 56-53 ISU. Joens helped take the ISU lead back to five to end the third with a pair of free throws at 58-53.
In opposition of the third quarter, the fourth featured only four points in the first four minutes, all for UT to make it 58-57 ISU. The Cyclones caught a break with a four-point possession via a UT unsportsmanlike conduct technical foul to get ahead by five but UT kept their cool and knotted it up at 64-64 on a Destiny Littleton 3-pointer. Joens restored the ISU lead with a lay-in to kick-start a 7-0 run to get Iowa State back ahead for good.
Players of Note
Alexa Middleton had her first game in double figures since Feb. 23 and it was a big one. The redshirt senior notched four first-half 3-pointers, her most treys as a Cyclone en route to 16 first-half points. Middleton finished with 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including four 3-pointers. She also dished out a team-high six assists.
Bridget Carleton came up big for Iowa State in the fourth quarter, as the senior notched seven of her 17 points in the fourth quarter. The Big 12 Player of the Year also got her 13th double-double of the season with 10 rebounds.
Ashley Joens broke Iowa State’s freshman record for most 3-pointers in a season. The Iowa City native now has 70 on the season, taking down Heather Ezell’s record of 69 from 2005-06. Joens got her first double-double of her Cyclone career, recording 13 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
Iowa State will take on No. 1 Baylor in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship title game. Tip between the Cyclones and Lady Bears will be at 8 p.m. with FS1 televising the championship tilt.