PORTLAND, Ore. – Villanova just kept coming. Iowa State continued to respond.
In the end, it looked like the Cyclones would win every ounce of their guts, composure, and play like they’d comfortably win it in Thursday afternoon’s overtime in the first round of the Phil Knight Invitational tournament, 81-79.
For passing their first major test of the season, they immediately get another – a date with No. 1 North Carolina on Friday at 4:30 pm CT in their side’s semifinals of the PK85 bracket.
Iowa State Coach TJ Otzelberger didn’t have a moment to think about the tar heels Thursday. But the victory over Villanova told him a lot about his team and the squad he will take with him into this game.
“There’s just a huge heart in it,” said Otzelberger after the 4-0 for his team. “A lot of guys contributed to a big win and we counted on them.”
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If you had to choose a game or sequence in the Cyclones’ win over Villanova, it could be center Osun Ossuniyi’s bucket at the post to give Iowa State a 77-74 lead in the final minute of overtime. and then his blocked shot on the other end. But you could also pick Gabe Kalscheur’s 3-pointer for a 75-72 lead just before fouling in the middle of overtime. Or freshman Tamin Lipsey’s four free throws in the final 20 seconds that gave the Cyclones just enough points.
Kalscheur also suggested Jaz Kunc’s 3-pointer early in the second half. Kunc had hit his elbow on the previous save and was still holding it and shaking it out as he caught the pass and buried a shot from the right without hesitation.
That 3-pointer sparked a 17-1 run at Iowa State to start the second half. At this point, with 15 minutes to go, the game looked as good as decided. But Villanova (2-3), who stormed back from 16 points at Michigan State last Friday and lost with two losses, once again showed all his sweat prowess, riding forwards Eric Dixon (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Caleb Daniels (25 points). , seven assists) in order to pull through the regulation at the end.
“We have great respect for their program,” said Otzelberger. “They got smaller, tried to spread us out a bit more, relied heavily on the 3-point shot. … They don’t win as many games as Villanova’s program and they don’t keep competing and fighting. These guys have an incredible spirit. They are competitors. We didn’t take anything for granted. We knew we had to stay locked in for the moment and we were lucky enough to play just enough games to come out with the win.
Iowa State led 67-60 with 1:35 left in regulation and had to regroup in overtime. Kalscheur said the Cyclones learned about themselves on the track and in the extra five minutes.
“Just that we’re persistent, that we’re hard-nosed and that we’re not going to give up,” he said. “We also work together. If something goes wrong or sideways, we just keep coming together.”
Kalscheur was a big part of that before fouling, with 23 points off the bench on 8-of-19 shooting (5-of-15-3s) in 35 minutes. The Cyclones bench beat the Wildcats 37-6. Osunniyi’s 17 points (on 8-of-10 shooting) and his work at the post helped Iowa State to color Villanova 40-16.
“We gave them some punches,” said Villanova coach Kyle Neptune. “You have to give them credit for having a lot of determination. Very well trained. (They are) extremely disciplined and they just play really, really hard.”