Sharp-shooting Cyclones down ETSU, 85-53
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP)—Iowa State didn’t play—or shoot—like a team looking ahead.
Alison Lacey made six of Iowa State’s record-tying 16 3-pointers and the fourth-seeded Cyclones routed East Tennessee State 85-53 in the opening round of NCAA tournament on Sunday.
Iowa State (25-8) tied the tournament record for 3s set by Harvard in the opening round of the 1996 tournament and will play fifth-seeded Tennessee or 12th-seeded Ball State in the second round on Tuesday night.
Lacey led the way, finishing with 18 points. Kelsey Bolte added 12, Heather Ezell scored 11 and Nicky Wieben and Amanda Nisleit added 10 points apiece as the sharp-shooting Cyclones moved into the second round for the third straight year.
“The coaches just kept telling me to shoot it,” said Nisleit, who went 2-for-4 from beyond the arc. “I always listen to them and do what they tell me. Luckily tonight they went in.”
And in. And in.
Iowa State wasted little time taking control as Lacey and Ezell came out firing. Iowa State needed less than 8 minutes to build a double-digit lead and was never threatened the rest of the way. Iowa State made 16 of 38 3-pointers, the 12th time this season the Cyclones have knocked down at least 10 3s in a game.
Taronda Wiles led ETSU (20-11) with 16 points, but star Siarre Evans struggled against the bigger, deeper Cyclones. Evans finished with eight points on 3-of-13 shooting as the Buccaneers shot just 31 percent.
“The kids were really, really locked in and it allowed them to get off to a fast start,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “When you are in the NCAA tournament a fast start is really big. When you have a good start it relaxes everyone.”
The Buccaneers had hoped to turn the game into a track meet by pushing the pace. Iowa State never let it happen. The Cyclones simply made too many shots, most of them 3-pointers from well behind the line.
“I felt we did have a letdown as a result of them knocking down all those 3s,” ETSU coach Karen Kemp said.
Now comes the hard part for the Iowa State, moving on. Though the Cyclones have become one of the Big 12’s more consistent programs under Fennelly—making the tournament in 10 of his 14 seasons—getting past the first weekend has been difficult of late.
Iowa State’s last two seasons ended in the second round and the Cyclones haven’t made it to the regional semifinals since 2001.
They entered this year’s tournament in an unfamiliar position: as a slight favorite to make it to Berkeley over two-time defending national champion Tennessee.
Fennelly said he didn’t feel any additional pressure to extend the season, though Iowa State’s veteran group—the Cyclones start three seniors—gives it a decided experience advantage over whoever it would play in the second round.
ETSU played well in its NCAA tournament debut last year, hanging tough with Oklahoma State before losing 85-73.
Kemp thought things would be easier the second time around after the Buccaneers successfully defended their Atlantic Sun Conference title.
The Buccaneers, however, were simply overwhelmed in the early going, playing out of control at times, leading to wild shots. Giving up several inches at nearly every position didn’t help. Iowa State used its length to alter shots and ETSU couldn’t match Iowa State’s torrid 3-point shooting.
“We knew they were great 3-point shooters and we did not get out and defend the way we should have,” Kemp said.
The Cyclones had as many 3-point baskets—10—as the Buccaneers had total field goals during a dominant first half. Iowa State led 47-25 at the break and quickly extended the edge to 30 before ETSU found its footing over the final 15 minutes.
By then it was too late even with the urging of a couple thousand Tennessee fans, who threw their support behind the school in Johnson City, Tenn., about 100 miles east of Knoxville.