Spartans Pose Next Challenge for ISU in Sweet 16
AMES, Iowa - The 17th-ranked Iowa State women’s basketball team will face Michigan State in the Cyclones’ fourth trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 in school history and their first since 2001. ISU will face the Spartans at 8 p.m. (central time) at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. The game will be televised by ESPN and will be called by Dave Pasch, Mary Murphy and Todd Harris.
Who: No. 17/19 Iowa State (26-8; 11-5) vs. Michigan State (22-10; 13-5)
When: Saturday, March 28, 2009 8 p.m. (Central)
Where: Berkeley, Calif. Haas Pavilion (11,877)
Live Stats: Live stats will be available at ncaasports.com
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/Learfield: Rich Fellingham (pxp); Molly Parrott (color)
TV: ESPN: Dave Pasch (pxp); Mary Murphy (color); Todd Harris (Sideline)
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Iowa State defeated No. 13 seed East Tennessee State (85-53) last Sunday and then knocked off No. 12 seed Ball State (71-57) on Tuesday to advance to the Berkeley Regional Semifinal. While it is the Cyclones’ fourth trip to the Sweet 16 in school history, it is the first time they have advanced to the Sweet 16 without playing the first two rounds on their home court.
Iowa State is 26-8 overall and went 11-5 for a third-place finish in the Big 12 standings. ISU defeated No. 23 Texas, 59-55, in the Big 12 quarterfinals, before falling to No. 7 Baylor, 63-57, in the Big 12 semifinals. This is the third consecutive season the Cyclones have made it to the Big 12 semis and the third consecutive season they have made it to the NCAA Championship second round.
The Cyclones have reached 20 wins for the third straight season and the 10th time in school history, including nine under head coach Bill Fennelly. The Cyclones’ 23 wins tied the ISU record for regular-season victories (also done in 1997-98). Iowa State needs just one more win to tie the school record for single-season wins (27).
Iowa State finished in a tie for third place in the Big 12 standings with Texas A&M. It is the Cyclones’ best Big 12 finish since the 2004-05 season. ISU has finished in the top four of the league standings in three of the last five seasons. The top four teams in the Big 12 have all advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 this season.
Three Cyclones have joined the 1,000-point club this season, beginning with seniors Heather Ezell and Nicky Wieben and capped by junior Alison Lacey, who reached the mark in ISU’s home win over Nebraska. It is the first time in school history three players have reached the 1,000-point mark in the same season, but it is the second time the Cyclones have had three 1,000-point scorers on the same team (Angie Welle, Lindsey Wilson, Tracy Gahan; 2001-02).
The Cyclones were strong at home this season, going 15-1 at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State had two games that ranked among the top 20 games in attendance in Iowa State history. The game vs. Texas on Feb. 15 ranked 18th (12,242) and the finale against Kansas ranked 15th (12,689).
The Cyclones’ home win over Colorado was head coach Bill Fennelly’s 300th career win at Iowa State.
Only one of Iowa State’s five league losses came to a team not ranked in the top 17 at the time of the game. The Cyclones’ loss at Kansas was their only misstep in the brutal Big 12 schedule. ISU’s other losses came against No. 5/5 Baylor, No. 17/14 Kansas State, No. 2/2 Oklahoma and No. 13/14 Texas.
Iowa State ranked 16th in the Associated Press Top 25 on Feb. 9. It was the Cyclones’ highest ranking in the AP Poll since rising to a No. 14 ranking for one week during the 2004-05 campaign.
Iowa State’s 12-2 regular-season non-conference mark ranked fourth among Big 12 squads this season. The Cyclones have posted four wins over ranked teams and they have all come at home. They include wins against 20th-ranked Vanderbilt (55-51), No. 21 Oklahoma State (63-55), No. 14/12 Kansas State (60-50) and No. 10/4 Texas A&M (67-50).
The Cyclones have won 40 straight regular-season non-conference contests at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones have not lost a regular-season non-conference game at home since the 2003-04 season (Washington).
ISU is in its 36th season of women’s basketball and its 14th season under head coach Bill Fennelly. Iowa State is 544-492 in school history.
Iowa State is coming off a 21-13 campaign in 2007-08. The Cyclones made it to the second round of the NCAA Championship a year ago, defeating Georgia Tech in the first round and falling to Rutgers in the second. ISU finished 7-9 in the Big 12 for a seventh-place tie with Texas in the final league standings. The Cyclones made it to the Big 12 Championship semifinals by defeating Colorado, 76-50, and 15th-ranked and regular-season Big 12 champ Kansas State, 66-65, in an overtime thriller.
Head coach Bill Fennelly is 306-140 at Iowa State and in his 14th season with the Cyclones. He is 472-193 in his head coaching career, which began at Toledo in 1988.
Michigan State holds a 3-1 lead in the all-time series with Iowa State, but the most recent meeting came in 1992 when the Spartans earned a 76-53 win over the Cyclones in MSU’s Holiday Classic. The other three meetings took place in the 1980s.
Michigan State is ISU’s third opponent of the season from the Big Ten Conference. The Cyclones fell at Iowa, 66-46, on Dec. 7, and then bounced back to thump Minnesota, 58-42, at home on Dec. 21.
ISU head coach Bill Fennelly is 1-0 in his career against Michigan State. His win over the Spartans came on Nov. 30, 1994, when his Toledo Rockets won, 79-72, in East Lansing, Mich.
A Closer Look At Michigan State
At 22-10, Michigan State became just the third No. 9 seed in NCAA Championship history to advance to the Sweet 16. The Spartans snuck by Middle Tennessee State, 60-59, in the first round and defeated No. 1 seed Duke, 63-49, in the second round on their home floor. This is MSU’s ninth NCAA Championship appearance and their third Sweet 16. Michigan State lost to Baylor in the 2006 NCAA Championship title game.
Michigan State finished in a tie for second place in the final Big Ten standings alongside Iowa and Purdue with a 13-5 conference record. The Spartans lost to Wisconsin, 56-50, in the first game of the Big Ten Tournament. MSU is 3-3 in its last six games, but beat Purdue, 57-55, in its regular-season home finale.
The Spartans have been a solid defensive team this season, holding opponents to 34.2 percent shooting and just 26.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc. MSU has held opponents to just 54.9 points per game. Allyssa DeHaan leads the Spartans with 102 blocks this season and Kalisha Keane has picked off 56 steals this campaign. As a team, MSU has shot 41.9 percent from the field and has averaged 41.3 rebounds per game. The Spartans average 8.8 picks, but have also committed 20.4 turnovers per contest.
Junior Aisha Jefferson is Michigan State’s leading scorer at 11.2 points per game. Allysa DeHaan has posted 10.4 ppg and is shooting 45.9 percent from the field. She is also MSU’s top rebounder at 6.3 rpg. The Spartans share the ball well, with 542 team assists on the season. Seven players have posted 30 or more assists.
Head coach Suzy Merchant is in her second season at Michigan State and is leading the Spartans to the NCAA Championship for the first time in her career. Prior to moving to Michigan State, Merchant was the winningest coach in Eastern Michigan history, compiling a 147-91 record in her nine seasons. She is 246-144 in 14 years as a head coach, and is 50-24 at the helm of the MSU program.
Iowa State NCAA Championship Fun Facts
Iowa State is making its 10th NCAA Championship appearance, with all 10 berths coming in the last 13 seasons under head coach Bill Fennelly. The Cyclones are 13-9 in NCAA Championship games and are making their fourth trip to the Sweet 16.
ISU went to three consecutive NCAA Regional Semifinals in 1999, 2000 and 2001. The Cyclones have not been back to the Sweet 16 since the 2001 season. Iowa State has only advanced to the Elite Eight once in school history (10 years ago in 1999).
The Cyclones hit 16 three-pointers in their NCAA first-round win over Eastern Tennessee State last Sunday night. That mark tied the NCAA Championship single-game record. South Dakota State also tied that mark on the same night, making it a three-way tie for the top spot. Iowa State also hit 15 three-pointers against St. Francis in 2000, giving the Cyclones two of the top four marks in NCAA Championship history.
ISU has been a four-seed or higher six times in the NCAA Championship. The Cyclones’ No. 4 seed this season is its highest since earning a No. 3 seed in 2002.
Iowa State played 11 teams in the NCAA field of 64 during the regular season. The Cyclones faced six teams that are seeded fifth or higher during the 2008-09 slate. ISU went 7-7 against teams in this season’s NCAA field.
Iowa State’s best NCAA run came 10 years again, when the Cyclones made it to the Elite Eight before falling to Georgia. ISU was a No.4 seed in that tournament and knocked off top-seeded Connecticut in the Sweet 16, giving the Huskies their first loss ever in that round. The Cyclones celebrated the 10-year anniversary of that team this season with a reunion and a half-time recognition on Jan. 31.
The Cyclones are making their third consecutive NCAA appearance, and have been to the second round in all three seasons. Last season, ISU hosted the first and second rounds at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The Cyclones defeated Georgia Tech, 58-55, in the No. 7/10 game in the first round. Iowa State then fell, 69-58, in the second round to No. 2 seed Rutgers, despite cutting the lead to five twice late in the game.
Nine teams from the Big 12 have earned a spot in postseason play, with six making the NCAA field. Four Big 12 Conference teams have advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16, including No. 1 seed Oklahoma, and No. 2 seeds Baylor and Texas A&M. It is the third time in conference history and the first occasion since the 2002 tournament the Big 12 has advanced at least four teams to the Regional Semifinals.
All-Big 12 Honors
Heather Ezell, Alison Lacey and Kelsey Bolte all garnered 2009 All-Big 12 women’s basketball honors. Ezell led the way as an All-Big 12 Second-Team pick, while Lacey and Bolte each earned honorable mention. Ezell earned Big 12 accolades for the first time in her career. She has led Iowa State with 11.7 points per game, which ranks 21st in the conference. She has hit 84 three-pointers to rank sixth on ISU’s single-season chart. Lacey earned her second straight Big 12 honor, after being named to the All-Big 12 Second Team last season. She has posted 10.9 points per game and leads the Cyclones with 3.7 assists per game, which ranks fifth in the conference. Bolte was named an honorable-mention pick after being picked for the All-Rookie Team last season. She has averaged 9.9 points per game and is shooting 41.6 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range, which ranks second in the league.
Last Time Out
Iowa State used a balanced offensive attack and a stern defense to turn back the No. 12 seed Ball State Cardinals, 71-57, in the second round of the NCAA Championship. Four Cyclones finished with 13 points or better, while the ISU defense held BSU’s three-point shooting prowess under control, as it hit just two treys for the contest. Nicky Wieben led Iowa State with 18 points and had eight rebounds. Kelsey Bolte went 5-of-7 from three-point range for 16 points. Amanda Nisleit contributed a double-double in the second round of the NCAA Championship for the second straight year with 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Alison Lacey was also in double figures with 13 points. Senior Heather Ezell had a great night with eight points, nine assists, four steals and five rebounds. The Cyclones shot 43.1 percent from the field and were 10-of-25 from beyond the arc. Ball State cut the ISU lead to two, 41-39, with just over 10 minutes to play, but Lacey and Ezell each scored to push the Cyclones back up seven points. Wieben hit her second three-pointer of the game with two minutes to go to push ISU ahead 64-50 to seal the victory.
1,000-Point Club Members
The Cyclones have had three different players hit the 1,000-point milestone this season. Heather Ezell (1,315) was the first to reach the mark in the win over Drake. Nicky Wieben (1,238) joined the club against IPFW. Alison Lacey (1,116) became the third in the home win over Nebraska. With the addition of these three, 21 players in school history have reached 1,000 career points. This is the first time Iowa State has had three players hit the mark in the same season. Three members of the 2001-02 squad reached 1,000 career points, but they didn’t all hit the mark during that campaign. Seven times in school history ISU has had two or more 1,000-point club members on the same squad.
A Balanced Attack
Iowa State has gotten its scoring from a different player nearly every night of the season. Seven players have led the Cyclones in scoring in at least one game this season and four players have teetered on averaging double figures most of the campaign. That balance has never been so evident as in the first two games of the NCAA Championship. In the first round, the Cyclones had five players in double figures (all starters), which had not happened all season. In the second round, four players finished in double digits, marking just the third time all season four or more players had finished a game with double-figure scoring. Only 3.4 points per game separate the Cyclones’ top five scorers.
On the Line
Iowa State was an outstanding 24-for-26 from the charity stripe against Colorado (Feb. 25). With that performance, the Cyclones have improved their season free throw shooting to 73 percent, which leads the Big 12 Conference. ISU was a perfect 24-for-24 before missing its last two in the final minute of the contest against CU. Three Cyclones have current streaks of seven or more made free throws (Whitney Williams-7; Alison Lacey-9; Amanda Nisleit-15). Nicky Wieben had a streak of 19 straight before missing one at Missouri and Kelsey Bolte had a streak of 21 straight before missing one in the last game against Ball State. Three current players rank in the ISU’s career top 10 for free throw percentage, and four more have percentages high enough to make the top 10 list, but do not have the required minimum 100 attempts.
Iowa State ranks third in NCAA attendance this season (as of March 14) with an average of 9,901 fans per game through 14 games. The Cyclone fans rolled out in record fashion on Sunday, Feb. 15. Iowa State’s crowd of 12,242 at the Texas game ranked 18th in ISU women’s basketball history. The ISU fans trumped that in the regular season finale, as 12, 689 fans showed up at Hilton Coliseum, ranking 15th in school history.
Meeting Their Match
Teams ranked in the Top 25 have met their match in Iowa State this season. The Cyclones are 5-6 against ranked teams this campaign, with four of those wins coming at Hilton Coliseum. ISU’s win over No. 10/4 Texas A&M was its first against a team ranked in the Associated Press Top 10 since defeating No. 2 Texas Tech, 64-63, during the 2003-04 season. It was also Iowa State’s 11th overall win in program history over a team ranked in the AP top 10. The Cyclones’ back-to-back wins over Kansas State and Texas A&M marked the first time ISU has defeated teams ranked in the AP Top 25 in consecutive games since the 2000-01 season.
Getting the Stop
Iowa State’s defense has been solid all season, holding opponents to 53.8 points per game. The Cyclones have held 28 opponents under 60 points, going 24-4 in those games. Iowa State has held Big 12 opponents in 15 games under the 60-point mark and the Cyclones held Big 12 teams to 50 points or less in eight regular-season league games (including five consecutive). ISU held Missouri to 42 points on Jan. 21, which was the Tigers’ lowest scoring output in the 67-game series, and the Cyclones held Nebraska to a season-low 38 points on Feb. 18, which was the Huskers’ lowest scoring output in the 71-game series. Texas A&M’s 50 points were a season low for the Aggies and the second lowest output by a TAMU team in the series with ISU. Iowa State held the Sooners without a three-pointer for the first time since Feb. 6, 2008. Oklahoma’s three three-point field goal attempts against the Cyclones were the fewest in the entire Sherri Coale era. Texas Tech’s 52 points against ISU were also a season low for the Lady Raiders.