The TCU women’s basketball team’s Big 12 opener against No. 14 Iowa State on Thursday night was within the Horned Frogs’ reach.
With 4:58 remaining, TCU trailed by nine, but the Horned Frogs left 15 points at the free-throw line, ultimately surrendering the game to Iowa State 71-49 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
The Horned Frogs executed their offensive game plan well, penetrating the lane for high-percentage shots and drawing fouls. TCU found itself on the free-throw line 30 times but hit just 50 percent of those.
“We knew scoring was going to be at a premium tonight,” TCU coach Jeff Mittie said. “We knew this could be a game that could be in the 50s, but I would not have guessed we were going to go to the free-throw line 30 times.
“If we’d have gone to the free-throw line 30 times, I would have thought we were going to score enough.”
TCU (9-4, 0-1 Big 12) kept the deficit around 10 points for most of the game but could never find that spark to start a run. It was partially the result of a lopsided rebounding margin, 56-25, in favor of Iowa State, which senior center Latricia Lovings said showed a lack of effort.
Iowa State (12-0, 1-0 Big 12) opened up TCU’s 2-3 zone in the first half by burying 10 3-pointers, six from sophomore guard Nicole Blaskowsky, who finished with seven, one short of her career high. Iowa State attempted just four field goals inside the arc in the first half.
Sophomore guard Zahna Medley was the lone Horned Frog who had success finding the net from both the field and the free-throw line. Through dribble penetration and sailing floaters over Iowa State’s bigs, Medley netted a team-high 22 points, going 7 for 8 from the free-throw line.
“Zahna did an amazing job tonight,” Lovings said. “Other than that, the team struggled from the free-throw line, and I think that’s where we left most of our points tonight.”
Lovings gave an outstanding defensive effort, blocking seven shots and holding Hallie Christofferson, the Big 12’s second-leading scorer who entered averaging 21.8 points per game, to just 10 points.
TCU also missed the scoring touch of junior Natalie Ventress, who was sidelined for the second straight game while undergoing concussion testing. Ventress has been a spark for the TCU offense through lulls during nonconference play.
“We had opportunities, but certainly a player like her, when you have some others struggling, has the ability to take over games at times, and we’ve seen her do that,” Mittie said of Ventress.
Ventress’ condition will be re-evaluated Friday, and her status for Sunday’s game against Texas Tech in Lubbock is still in question.
“We missed her tonight. She’s usually the spark behind the 3-point line if Zahna is struggling,” Lovings said. “We’re hoping that she’s back for Sunday.”
Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said TCU made a much better game of it than the score indicated.
“This one just got away from us,” Mittie said.