No. 23 Iowa St. 72, Gonzaga 60
Kelly Graves figures he might get a few more hours of sleep in
the coming days. The Gonzaga coach was hoping it’d be a couple more
weeks before he could start catching up on the hours of rest that
gets lost during the season.
Especially when the scenario was all set up for Gonzaga to make
another deep run in the NCAA tournament without having to leave
”It’s disappointing. You know, it really is,” Graves said. ”I
don’t have many hobbies other than going to watch my kids do
things. And I unfortunately won’t watch much of our tournament.
Chelsea Poppens scored 19 points, Hallie Christofferson scored
11 of her 18 in the second half, and fifth-seeded Iowa State ended
No. 12 seed Gonzaga’s dominance at home in the NCAA women’s
tournament with a 72-60 win over the Bulldogs on Saturday.
Gonzaga went 4-0 the past two seasons playing on its home floor
at the McCarthey Athletic Center during the NCAAs in reaching the
round of 16 both years. Iowa State (24-8) solved beating the
Bulldogs thanks to dynamic shooting from behind the 3-point line
and an awful shooting performance by the Bulldogs.
Taelor Karr led Gonzaga (27-6) with 15 points, but the Bulldogs
shot just 32 percent for the game and only 27 percent in the second
half. Haiden Palmer was the only other Gonzaga player in double
figures with 14 points, but was just 1 of 8 on 3s. She did have 10
”I liked our looks tonight. I thought we had some pretty good
looks and we had some good second shot looks in the paint, one of
those things, the pressure of the moment, perhaps,” Graves said.
”But when you’re playing teams like Iowa State or anybody in the
NCAA tournament, those things can’t happen. You have to step up and
make shots and make plays.”
The Cyclones outlasted the Bulldogs despite committing 23
turnovers and having to play before a raucous pro-Gonzaga crowd
that crammed nearly every spot of the 6,000-seat arena. They
avoided joining Iowa, UCLA, Rutgers and Miami as higher seeded
teams who lost to Gonzaga on its home floor in the previous two
The Cyclones made up for the turnovers by hitting 3s from deep
and challenging Gonzaga’s shots. Iowa State hit nine 3-pointers,
including four in the first half from Williamson. Williamson
averaged just 8.3 points per game during the regular season, but
her outside shooting was critical in opening looks on the interior
for the Cyclones.
”You turn the ball over 23 times on the road, usually don’t win
those games,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. ”But we
defended well as we have been. We shot free throws well as we have
been. We made some shots at right times and it was a very difficult
Williamson’s defense was important also, matched up against Karr
most of the game. Karr, the West Coast Conference player of the
year, finished 5 of 10 shooting, but struggled to get open looks.
Gonzaga was a nearly 43 percent shooting team during the regular
season, but they were not immune from slumps. Four times during the
regular season, the Bulldogs failed to shoot at least 35 percent at
home. They were 1-3 in those games.
Graves was more flustered by the offensive efficiency of the
Cyclones. Iowa State shot 52 percent and became the first team this
season to top 70 points on the Bulldogs.
”Our defense was tested and we didn’t past the test,” Graves
Leading by three at halftime, Iowa State scored the first six
points of the second half to take its largest lead at 40-31 with 18
minutes remaining, only to go nearly 6 minutes without making a
field goal. Iowa State committed another five turnovers and missed
five straight shots before Nikki Moody finally broke the drought
with a 3-pointer. Karr immediately answered on a backdoor cut while
being fouled for a three-point play with 12:04 left to cut the
Cyclones lead to 45-42.
Out of a timeout, Christofferson hit a corner 3-pointer,
followed by five straight points from Anna Prins and another 3 by
Williamson to push the Cyclones lead back to nine. Poppens then
scored in the paint, and after a Gonzaga turnover, Poppens scored
off a rebound for a 60-49 lead with 7:45 left.
The Bulldogs had one final run left, pulling within 62-57 with
2:52 left after a pair of free throws from Shaniqua Nilles.
Following a shot clock violation by Iowa State, Nilles had an open
3 rim off and Christofferson hit a pair of free throws with 1:37
left to push the lead back to seven. Iowa State was a perfect 10 of
10 at the free throw line in the final minutes.
”I think we played well, played hard, tough,” Karr said. ”We
played pretty physical considering with how big they are, but they
just hit big shots, so give them a lot of credit.”