Iowa State may have a size disadvantage against Florida State but proficiency from long range and home-court advantage could help offset that.
The seventh-seeded Cyclones face the No. 10 Seminoles on their own floor in Ames, Iowa, in the first round of the NCAA Women’s tournament Saturday.
With only one starter over 6-foot, Iowa State (20-10) could struggle against the taller Seminoles (20-11), but guard Brynn Williamson isn’t concerned.
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”Since October, we haven’t gotten any taller, so we’ve been playing undersized all season and we’ve gotten quality wins playing like that,” she said.
It also helps that the only player over 6-foot is All-Big 12 forward Hallie Christofferson, who averages 18.6 points and 7.3 rebounds. She leads three teammates who average 10 or more points.
"The two things we have to do: We have to keep Hallie Christofferson in the game, she’s a lot better player than she is an assistant coach," Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. "We are going to have to make some 3s. We have to score."
Making 3s is something Fennelly’s team has done with regularity this season. Only two teams in the tournament – Florida Gulf Coast and UT Martin – make more 3-pointers than Iowa State. The Cyclones, who average nine a game, will be going against FSU’s 2-3 zone defense, a style they typically don’t see in the Big 12.
Florida State (20-11) is the more athletic team, but ranks 276th nationally with 4.1 3-pointers per contest.
The Seminoles rely heavily on 6-3 forward Natasha Howard, who averages 21.2 points and 9.3 rebounds. She totaled 59 points on 25-of-39 shooting and grabbed 21 boards in ACC tournament games against Miami and Notre Dame.
This will be the 13th NCAA postseason appearance and ninth in the last 10 seasons for Florida State. It is 9-2 all-time in NCAA tournament first-round games. FSU has won its first game of the tournament in its last 10 appearances dating back to 1991.
Ames is a special place to Florida State coach Sue Semrau. In 2001 she brought her first NCAA team to Hilton Coliseum, where it lost to Iowa State in the second round. Nine NCAA appearances have followed, including an Elite Eight in 2010.
FSU senior associate athletics director Vanessa Fuchs and assistant coach Brooke Wyckoff played on the 2001 team.
”You see things go full circle,” Semrau said. ”I remember the first game we played Tulane and just the joy that came from being in this environment at the NCAA tournament. It really got things rolling for Florida State. There is a satisfaction to where we’ve come from 13 years later.”
The winner of this game plays the winner of the Stanford-South Dakota game in the second round Monday.