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Recap: No. 22 Iowa State makes key threes in win over No. 17 Texas, which doesn’t make many

The Iowa State Cyclones got eight combined threes from Denae Fritz, Ashley Joens and Lexi Donarski, while the Texas Longhorns hit two big ones, but no others.

Syndication: The Des Moines Register
Lexi Donarski came back from a split lip to make key plays for the Cyclones Monday night.
Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA TODAY NETWORK

Denae Fritz opened scoring with a left corner three and provided the dagger on a three from the right corner that put her No. 22 Iowa State Cyclones up 64-57 on the No. 17 Texas Longhorns with 37 seconds remaining Monday night at James H. Hilton Coliseum in Ames.

Behind 24 points, eight rebounds and two steals from Ashley Joens, the Cyclones were able to win 66-61 and snap a skid of losing to three teams not currently receiving votes. A win over a ranked team in Texas (20-7, 11-3 Big 12) is exactly what Iowa State (16-7, 8-5 Big 12) needed and it was the 750th win in the career of head coach Bill Fennelly.

After struggling all night from beyond the arc, Texas made its first two threes of the game at 4:18 (Shaylee Gonzales) and 3:35 (Shay Holle) in the fourth for a 6-0 run that cut its deficit to 57-53. At 2:52, Rori Harmon (19 points, six assists, three steals) made a deep two to cut it to 58-55.

Joens then made a layup while falling down at 2:37 and turned it into a 3-point play that pushed Iowa State’s lead to 61-55. On the ensuing possession, Holle’s 3-point attempt went in and out, but Joens went 0-of-2 from the free throw line at 1:45 to leave the door open. A Harmon mid-range make from the left baseline cut it to 61-57 at 1:24, but Fritz answered with the dagger.

DeYona Gaston made a free throw line jumper to cut it to 64-59 at 22 seconds remaining, but Joens wouldn’t disappoint at the stripe again, going 2-of-2 at 14 seconds to push it to 66-59. Harmon, who was cold for a long stretch, remained hot down the stretch with a deep, fadeaway two from the right corner that cut it to 66-61 with seven seconds remaining. But the Longhorns did not foul after that.

Emily Ryan backed Joens up with 12 points, eight assists and four steals. Fritz was good for 10 points, seven boards and three blocks, while Lexi Donarski returned from a split lip suffered in the first quarter to finish with 11 points (3-of-5 from three) for the winners. Joens was 3-of-6 from downtown while Fritz was 2-of-4. Ryan was 5-of-6 from the field.

The Longhorns finished 2-of-14 from deep and lost despite winning offensive rebounds 22-8.

Donarski made a deep three with four seconds remaining in the third and a right corner three one minute and nine seconds into the fourth for a 6-0 individual run that brought the score to 55-40 Cyclones. Texas chipped away with a 6-0 run featuring two mid-range makes from Harmon, but Fritz made an incredible layup high off the backboard to make it 57-47 with 4:45 to go.

The entire third was played between a seven-point and 12-point Iowa State lead. The frame was highlighted by back-to-back contested layups by Ryan that brought the score to 46-34 at the 2:23 mark. Also, Fritz made a contested mid-range shot after a spin move to make it 35-26 at the 8:35 mark.

Donarski missed about seven minutes of game time with her split lip. She returned from the tunnel in the second, just before Holle took a pick-6 the other way for a Texas layup that cut it to 24-14 at the 6:16 mark. The energy of having Donarski’s presence back would benefit the Cyclones soon after when Joens got her own miss and made a layup that pushed the lead back to 12. Ryan then got a steal and fast-break layup to make it 28-14.

The Longhorns came right back with a 4-0 run that cut it to 10 again before Joens made a step-back three that made it 31-18 State. The back-and-forth nature continued with Texas going on another 4-0 run and converting on another pick-6, this one by Harmon, that cut it to 31-22. The Cyclones led 33-24 at the break.

At around 2:08 in the first, Donarski took a nasty hit to the lip from Gonzales’ head. After she got hit, she immediately went to the floor right in front of the Iowa State bench and you could tell the bench looked startled by something. Blood could be seen on Donarski’s right hand as she was tended to on the court.

At the time, Iowa State had a 20-8 lead. It led 22-11 after one.

The Cyclones opened the game on an 8-0 run with threes coming from Fritz and Joens. A Donarski catch-and-shoot three made it 11-2.

Iowa State was a No. 5 seed in ESPN’s Feb. 10 Bracketology; Texas was a No. 3 seed.