No. 23 Iowa St. 72, Gonzaga 60
Through every run and every charge made at his team, Iowa State
coach Bill Fennelly never saw panic even when it would seem easy to
cave while playing in the NCAA tournament on the opponent’s home
Whether it was Brynn Williamson hitting key 3-pointers or
Chelsea Poppens scoring inside, the Cyclones finally found the
formula to end Gonzaga’s dominance at home in the NCAAs.
”Our team at times gets a little crazy, like most teams, but I
never really thought that they showed that today. … They handled
it great,” Fennelly said.
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 run at home with a 72-60 win Saturday.
Gonzaga went 4-0 the past two seasons playing at the McCarthey
Athletic Center during the NCAAs in reaching the round of 16 both
years. Iowa State (24-8) stopped the trend with dynamic shooting
from behind the 3-point line and an awful shooting performance by
Williamson hit five 3-pointers and scored 17 points for the
Cyclones, who reached the second round of the tournament for the
first time since 2010. Iowa State will face No. 4 seed Georgia on
”It’s huge that we are winning on the road in a great
environment like this against a really good team,” Williamson
said. ”At the end of the day we celebrate this tonight, but
tomorrow it’s back to work.”
Taelor Karr led Gonzaga (27-6) with 15 points, but the Bulldogs
shot 27 percent in the second half and 32 percent for the game.
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
”We missed some shots that we usually knock down,” Palmer
said. ”They had a little bit of pressure but even the open looks,
that just happens sometimes.”
The Cyclones moved on despite committing 23 turnovers in front
of 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 tournaments.
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.
Her defense was important also, matched up against Karr most of
the game. Karr 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.
The bigger problem to Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves was Iowa State
shooting 52 percent and becoming the first team this year to top 70
points against 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, trimming 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 advantage back to nine. Kiara Kudron
responded with a layup for Gonzaga, but Poppens had four straight
points for a 60-49 lead with 7:45 left.
The Bulldogs had one final run left, closing to 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
”You turn the ball over 23 times on the road you usually don’t
win those game,” Fennelly said. ”It was a very difficult
environment. … We beat a really good team in a tough place.”