AMES, Iowa — When Bill Fennelly sat at the podium in the bowels of Hilton Coliseum on Monday morning, looking ahead to his team’s two conference home games, he called it the most important week of the season. Saturday, he needed just one word to sum it up.
“Miserable,” Fennelly said.
Heartbreak struck again at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday as an Oklahoma State swished a game-winning basket with one second remaining, sending Iowa State to a 63-62 loss and its second consecutive home defeat after the Cyclones lost a nail biter Wednesday to Kansas.
Oklahoma State dominated the boards, outrebounding Iowa State 41-27. The final rebound proved to be the biggest, setting the Cowboys up out of bounds with three seconds to play, which it would eventually convert.
“Obviously disappointing to lose the way we did, but sometimes the game is eerily simple, and they just annihilated us on the backboard,” Fennelly said. “When you get outrebounded the way we got outrebounded you’re not going to win. We needed one more rebound to win the game and couldn’t get it.”
Iowa State might not have been in position to win the game had it not been for forward Bry Fernstrom. The freshman scored Iowa State’s first 13 points Saturday, eventually tallying 19 of the Cyclones’ 31 by halftime.
“Bry was great,” Fennelly said. “If Bry doesn’t show up, we’re down 25 at halftime. Bry was the only player that played in the first half.”
“I think my teammates were finding me when I was open and I was finishing around the basket, which has been a struggle for me lately,” Fernstrom added. “Once I made the first couple of shots I became more confident and believed all my shots were going to go in.”
That performance would go for naught. Oklahoma State focused on Fernstrom in the second half, playing her more physical and holding her to four points as she finished with 23 on 11-of-17 from the field.
The Cyclones trailed by as many as nine early in the second half before using a 12-2 run to take a one-point lead. No team led by more than two during the final 8:44, and Seanna Johnson put Iowa State ahead with one minute to play with a pair of free throws.
On the other end, a late miss went out of bounds on the Cyclones and set up the game-winning shot. Iowa State, which entered the week 5-2 in conference with two games against teams in the bottom half, dropped to 5-4 midway through its Big 12 schedule.
“We’ve worked hard to get to where we were and we’re 5-4, we’re hanging around,” Fennelly said. “We let a lot of people down this week. I let a lot of people down this week. That’s not a good feeling. We’ve got nine games to go. The calendar changes to February and we’ll see.”