Horned Frogs edged by Iowa State in heartbreaking fashion, 66-63

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A poor offensive showing plagued the Horned Frogs Wednesday night as they could not overcome an inconsistent showing against Iowa State at Schollmaier Arena, falling 66-63.

Following a seven-game win streak in Big 12 play, the Horned Frogs have now recorded four consecutive losses.

“This is a disappointing loss for our team,” TCU head coach Raegan Pebley said. “It’s just that hard to sweep teams in our conference. At this time of year, every single possession is extremely important, especially when you’re playing a team shooting the three as well as Iowa State is right now.”

Both offenses started in a rut in the first quarter. Sophomore Kianna Ray netted the first basket for the Horned Frogs with a jumper from the free throw line two minutes into the game, but the team could not get much going in the first 10 minutes.

The Horned Frogs were up 10-9 after the first quarter but could not capitalize on Iowa State’s struggles. Iowa State finished the first quarter hitting only two of their final 12 shots with five turnovers and presented the Horned Frogs with a perfect opportunity to pull away. The Horned Frogs did not exploit the opportunity and finished the quarter hitting one of their final eight shots.

Iowa State’s sluggish outing from the field continued into the second quarter. The Cyclones began the quarter hitting four of their first 14 shots with three turnovers. In response, the Horned Frogs locked in from beyond the arc with four three-point field goals, including three from junior Dakota Vann.

The Cyclones fought back late in the second quarter. TCU suffered a four-minute scoring drought to finish the half with three turnovers which allowed Iowa State to end the half on a 6-0 run. The Horned Frogs entered the locker room up 28-25.

“[The drought] was huge because they were able to convert during that time and continue to chip away at the lead,” Pebley said.

Iowa State continued their momentum from the first half into the third quarter and extended their lead to eight points, led by junior Bridget Carleton. Carleton, a finalist for the Cheryl Miller Award as the nation’s top small forward, torched the Horned Frogs for 12 third-quarter points.

The Cyclones shot 53 percent from the field in the third quarter while TCU shot only 25 percent.

A major force in keeping the Horned Frogs off the scoreboard was Iowa State’s Claire Ricketts. A brick wall in the paint, she finished the contest with six total blocks, 12 rebounds (three of them offensive) and six second-chance points.

The Horned Frogs were outscored 22-11 in the third quarter. TCU’s 11 points are tied for their season-low in a quarter, set Nov. 24 against Arizona.

The fourth quarter was a different story. The Horned Frogs locked in defensively, forced two turnovers and blocked a shot within two minutes to retake the lead, 48-47.

“We just continued to stay locked in and were really able to be more aggressive on our switches to create better matchups on the floor which helped us a lot,” Pebley said.

The Cyclones and Carleton would not be denied, though. Carleton finished the contest with 26 points, including nine in the fourth quarter to combat TCU’s run.

Once the Cyclones regained the lead, the Horned Frogs trimmed the deficit to as little as two points with 37 seconds remaining. TCU couldn’t complete the comeback, however, and the Cyclones left Fort Worth victorious.

“We fell short today,” Pebley said. “We need to stay positive and I believe if our team does that, we will get to where we want to be. We can still do a lot of great things with this team this season.”

Iowa State leads the Big 12 in three-point field goals per game, averaging just under nine per game. The Cyclones hit 10 Wednesday night and Pebley said their ability to convert from beyond the arc is their best quality.

“They have five players on the floor and everyone who played shot the three,” Pebley said. “They’re shooting it confidently and very well right now.”

Four games into the month of February, the Horned Frogs still have yet to win a game. The Frogs have four losses in the first 14 days of the month, with three coming to ranked opponents.

Up next, the Horned Frogs will return to Schollmaier Arena Saturday against the Kansas State Wildcats. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.