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Aggressive approach pays off as Cyclones defeat Irish, adavance

The SportsXchange

DAYTON, Ohio -- Iowa State, the nation's top 3-point shooting team, made nine shots from the beyond the arc in Friday's second-round NCAA Tournament win over Notre Dame. But that wasn't what led to the Cyclones' domination of the Irish.

Cyclones forward Georges Niang said it was the threat of the 3-pointer that created openings for him to get easy baskets.

Niang scored 19 points and Melvin Ejim added 17 lifting No. 10-seed Iowa State to a 76-58 win over No. 7-seed Notre Dame Friday night at University of Dayton Arena.

"Coming into the game we thought we'd have a mismatch against their bigs," Niang said. "The guards were staying on our shooters. That gave us a lane to go by them. I got some easy lay-ins, and that got us going. We fed off that."

The Cyclones (23-11), who advance to face No. 2 seed Ohio State in the third round at 12:15 p.m. Sunday at Dayton, used an aggressive, attacking defense to force 17 Irish turnovers and record four steals.

"We usually don't turn the ball over like that," said Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant. "We made mental mistakes we couldn't afford to make. We picked the worst day to have our worst game."

Iowa State's goal coming into Friday's game was to speed up the Irish and get them out of their half-court offense. The Cyclones outscored the Irish 12-to-2 on fast-breaks and scored 16 points of Irish turnovers.

"If you play that team in the half-court, it's going to be a long night, we knew that," said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg.

For Notre Dame, it was yet another early NCAA Tournament exit, leaving some unfinished business for the Irish who move to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

"It stings," said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey who is 6-9 in the NCAA Tournament, and just 5-5 as a higher seed. "It's what keeps me up at night. We've been so consistent in the regular season. Winning in this tournament is the next step for our program."

Notre Dame (25-10) was led by Jack Cooley and Tom Knight who each scored 14 points. Grant added nine points for the Irish.

Iowa State used an 8-0 run beginning with Will Clyburn's layup at the end of the first half to go ahead 41-25 early in the second half.

Niang, who had just six points in the first half, scored seven consecutive points making the score 51-33.

Korie Lucious hit a 3-pointer to give Iowa State its largest lead, 57-37, with 11:24 left.

With the game in hand late in the second half, the 3-pointers began to fall again for Iowa State.

Back-to-back Tyrus McGee put the Cyclones ahead by 27 points with 7:58 left. Bubu Palo hit a 3-pointer to make the score 74-47.

Notre Dame went scoreless for nearly four minutes to start the game and Iowa State produced a 7-0 run to grab the lead.

Ejim's dunk put the Cyclones ahead 25-19 with 4:34 remaining in the first half.

Iowa State went 5 of 13 from beyond the arc in the first half. But it was the Cyclones' defense that made the difference in the first half, forcing 14 Irish turnovers with three steals. Iowa State scored 13 of its first-half points off turnovers.

Iowa State broke open a close game late in the first half.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Chris Babb put the Cyclones ahead 31-21. Clyburn later beat the first-half buzzer with a layup putting Iowa State ahead 35-23 at halftime. Clyburn led all scorers in the first half with eight points.

"They're so potent offensively with the way they spread you out," Brey said. "At times I thought it was men against boys tonight. I don't want to take anything away from Iowa State. But I'm thoroughly disappointed."

Notes: It was the second meeting between Iowa State and Notre Dame. The Irish won the only other meeting, 87-77, in South Bend in 1979. .. This is the first the Irish have qualified for four straight times to play in the NCAA Tournament since making six straight trips from 1985-90. ... Iowa State made 10 or more 3-pointers in 19 games this year. ... The Cyclones made their 15th NCAA Tournament appearance.
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