No. 16 Iowa St. 79, Lehigh 42
With Alison Lacey feeling better, so was everyone else on Iowa State's basketball team.
Anna Prins scored 21 points and the Cyclones celebrated Lacey's return to the lineup with a 79-42 victory over Lehigh on Sunday night in the first round of the NCAA women's tournament.
Lacey, who missed the previous four games with pneumonia, looked healthy while playing 29 minutes. The all-Big 12 guard had seven points, seven assists and four rebounds as fourth-seeded Iowa State (24-7) moved into a second-round game Tuesday night against No. 12 Wisconsin-Green Bay, which upset Virginia 69-67.
``Being in bed for two weeks, it kind of takes you a little bit to get back up and down the court and get my breathing back, but I felt good for the most part,'' Lacey said. ``A little tired now, but that's expected. And I feel a lot better than I thought I would.''
In a game that went just as expected for a top-four seed playing on its home court, Chelsea Poppens added 18 points and Kelsey Bolte 12 for Iowa State, which scored the first 12 points and was never threatened in snapping Lehigh's 16-game winning streak.
Emily Gratch had 12 points to lead 13th-seeded Lehigh (29-4), the Patriot League champion. Patriot League teams have lost 18 straight NCAA tournament games.
Iowa State, which tied Oklahoma for second place in the Big 12, went 1-3 in the games Lacey missed, including a loss to Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.
But with their floor leader back in action, the Cyclones took control early against Lehigh and never let up, winning in the first round for the fourth straight time and improving to 17-1 at home this season.
``Certainly having (Lacey) back changes everything about our team,'' Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. ``Everyone's more relaxed (and) it's fun. It's fun to know you've won a tournament game. We know what's ahead of us, but we're excited to have that opportunity.''
In the early going, Lacey set up Amanda Zimmerman for a 3-pointer, hit Poppens in stride for a fast-break layup and buried a 28-foot 3 from the right wing, giving the Cyclones a 12-0 lead.
Fennelly regards Lacey as a coach on the floor and she showed why early in the second half when she yelled at Zimmerman to get in the right position on a play.
Iowa State built a 35-20 halftime lead, then hit Lehigh with a 9-0 run early in the second half to make it 44-25 and all but finish off the Mountain Hawks.
Lacey played the entire first half and didn't leave the game until 11:12 remained. Having done enough to help put it out of reach, she did not return. The Cyclones led 51-30 when she took a seat for the evening.
Lehigh seemed more rattled by Iowa State's defense than the pro-Cyclones crowd of 6,738.
The Mountain Hawks missed their first nine shots and didn't get on the board until Kristen Dalton sank a free throw with 13:39 left in the opening half. It wasn't until Alex Ross hit a jumper at the 13:02 mark that Lehigh made a basket.
The Mountain Hawks ended up shooting 22 percent (11 for 50) and were outrebounded 46-24.
``We just didn't get out of the gate strong and to their credit, they played tremendous defense,'' Lehigh coach Sue Troyan said. ``They didn't give us a lot of clean looks and it just snowballed a little bit as well.''
If making shots wasn't enough of a problem, the Mountain Hawks had no one to match up with the 6-foot-7 Prins inside. The freshman made nine of 16 shots and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Prins did most of her scoring on the low block, but she also stepped outside to make one of Iowa State's seven 3-pointers.
``We knew they were going to come and double in the post, so that was obviously a challenge at first,'' Prins said. ``I thought we did a good job of moving the ball around, which opened up stuff, and then attacking the basket. I had a lot of fun tonight.''
Poppens, also a freshman, shot 5 for 6 from the field, made all eight of her free throws and had eight rebounds.
Behind Poppens and Prins, Iowa State had a 36-10 edge in points in the paint, including 18 points after offensive rebounds.