AMES, IOWA — Surprised might be an understatement.
Fallon Ellis entered Saturday having attempted four lone 3-pointers this season, and yet there she was in the corner as a tiebreaker fell through the net to help lift Iowa State over Kansas State, 60-55, in its Big 12 opener.
“How many 3s has she taken?” Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie wondered aloud. “There’s not a bigger shot in this game than that one.”
Iowa State struggled early with Kansas State’s zone defense, but used a 10-0 run midway through the first half to build a lead. The Cyclones, who led by as many as 13 points, would watch that lead dwindle.
Kansas State, which trailed by 11 points at halftime, forced Iowa State into committing 21 turnovers, allowing the Wildcats to erase the Cyclones’ lead and make it a 50-all game with 3:21 remaining.
Thirty seconds later, Ellis took a pass in the corner from Brynn Williamson and released a 3-pointer, her fifth attempt this season, from the corner.
“When she passed it to me I kind of shot it and kind of prayed and hoped it went it, and it did,” Ellis said. “It was a big 3, I was pretty excited. I was a little surprised it came to me, but I’m glad I hit it.”
Iowa State built its lead to five from there and never looked back. Ellis finished tying a career high in scoring with 11 points off the bench.
“Fallon Ellis was incredible,” coach Bill Fennelly said. “[It was] maybe the biggest shot, certainly of this game, and maybe the shot of her career.”
The Cyclones move on from their first Big 12 win with some questions after the alarming 21 turnovers, which Fennelly called ridiculous. Yet Iowa State received an abundance of scoring from its bench as Emily Durr (10) and Jadda Buckley (7) added production off the bench.
That, of course, went along with Ellis’ contribution, which was rewarded with a standing ovation after she fouled out.
“It makes me feel pretty good,” said Ellis, who scored in double-figures for the third time in her career. “I’ve never had one, and my senior year it’s something that’s showing that I’m going out there and doing what I’m supposed to do."