Joens, Soares help No. 7 Iowa State hold off Northern Iowa

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Ashley Joens scored 26 points, Stephanie Soares had 23 and No. 7 Iowa State survived a scare in its first road game of the season, holding off Northern Iowa 88-85 on Wednesday night.

The Cyclones led by as much as 14 points and had a 76-63 advantage with 8:25 left in the game before the Panthers rallied.

“It felt like a first or second-round NCAA tournament game,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “It really did. The intensity of it, the emotion of it, the ebb and flow of it. Really entertaining.”

Emily Ryan’s 3-pointer with 2:03 remaining gave Iowa State (3-0) an 86-85 lead after Northern Iowa (2-1) had pulled ahead. Ryan added a jumper in the lane 48 seconds later.

“Honestly, I was just try to get the team into a position to win the game,” Ryan said. “Whatever the defense was giving us is what we were taking and it just so happened that I was open at the end.”

Northern Iowa had a chance to tie it, but Kayla Laube’s 3-point attempt hit off the side of the rim with 1 second left.

Iowa State appeared in control before the Panthers went on a 15-0 run that included nine points from Grace Boffeli, who scored 26 overall.

“I thought our ball movement in the second half was terrific,” Northern Iowa coach Tanya Warren said. “We were able to get downhill, we were able to isolate (Boffeli) in the middle of the floor, and it allowed us to get back in the basketball game.”

Fennelly decided against calling a timeout during the run.

“Every team that I’ve been a part of that’s been really, really good, at some point the coaches don’t step away, but you get out of the way, and you let the players decide,” he said. “Sometimes this time of year you have to learn the hard way.”

Joens, an Associated Press preseason All-American, was 9 of 18 from the field, including six 3-pointers. She also had nine rebounds.

Joens, in her fifth season with the Cyclones, grew up in Iowa City and understands the intensity of the in-state rivalry games.

“Any in-state game, whether it’s Drake, Iowa, UNI, we’re going to get everyone’s best shot,” Joens said. “It really is a pride thing and it shows you how good the basketball is in the state of Iowa. It’s a lot of fun.”

Ryan had 14 points, Denae Fritz had 12 and Lexi Donarski had 10 for the Cyclones.

Maya McDermott had 22 points, Kam Finley had 15 and Laube had 12 for Northern Iowa.

The Cyclones improved to 39-9 in the series, including 22 of the last 26 under Fennelly.

“We’re not into emotional victories,” Warren said. “But we just went toe-to-toe with the seventh-ranked team in the country. A possession here or there, and it could have gone our way.”

KEEPING UP WITH JOENS

Joens became Iowa State’s leader in career field goals and 3-pointers. She has 795 field goals, passing Angie Welle, who had 791 from 1999-2002. Joens’ 263 3-pointers are four more than Brynn Williamson.

Joens, the Division I active scoring leader with 2,438 points, is also the program’s leader in scoring, scoring average, field-goal attempts and free throws made.

BIG PICTURE

The Cyclones had won their first two games by a combined 57 points. They couldn’t shake the Panthers until the closing seconds, even though Northern Iowa missed 10 free throws and committed 15 turnovers.

“When everyone puts their scouting report together, it’s going to have (the ranking of) No. 7 or No. 8 or whatever, and we get that,” Fennelly said. “Hopefully we learned a lot.”

UP NEXT

Iowa State: Hosts Columbia on Sunday.

Northern Iowa: Hosts No. 20 Creighton on Sunday.

ISU’s Tyrese Hunter, Big 12 freshman of year, will transfer

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
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AMES, Iowa — Big 12 freshman of the year Tyrese Hunter of Iowa State has entered the transfer portal.

Hunter announced his decision on Twitter on Tuesday, about three weeks after he finished helping the Cyclones complete the biggest turnaround in Big 12 history.

“First of all, I’d like to thank the Good Lord for blessing me with the ability and talent to play this game that I love so much,” Hunter wrote. “Secondly, to Cyclone Nation, I wanna thank you all for the support and undying enthusiasm that you give Cyclone basketball every game at Hilton Coliseum or on the road. I’ll always appreciate it.”

Hunter, from Racine, Wisconsin, thanked his coaches and teammates for embracing him as he started his college career.

Hunter averaged 11 points per game and set school freshman records with 172 assists and 71 steals. Hunter scored 23 points and made 7 of 11 3-pointers in Iowa State’s win over LSU in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Cyclones reached the NCAA Sweet 16 after winning just two games in 2020-21.

Upstart Creighton women top Iowa State, reach Elite Eight

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Creighton’s players gathered for a group hug near midcourt as the final seconds ticked down to the horn, then Tatum Rembao flung the ball skyward in jubilation.

Moments later, the Bluejays migrated to share the celebration with fans and family near courtside.

“The past two weeks hasn’t felt real,” Morgan Maly said.

Believe it, Morgan. The 10th-seeded Bluejays are within a game of the Final Four.

She scored a career-high 21 points in Creighton’s 76-68 win over Iowa State on Friday night as the Bluejays became only the fourth double-digit seed to reach a women’s NCAA Tournament regional final.

Rembao added 19 for the Bluejays, who entered the Greensboro Region semifinals savoring the program’s first run to the Sweet 16. Now, Creighton has joined Lamar in 1991 and Oregon in 2017 as 10-seeds that pushed to the Elite Eight. Gonzaga in 2011 was the lowest-seeded ever at No. 11 to reach the Elite Eight.

“This team just continues to amaze me,” longtime Creighton coach Jim Flanery said.

The challenge ahead is even bigger for the upstart team: a matchup with No. 1 overall tournament seed South Carolina for a trip to the Final Four.

Creighton (23-9), which upset second-seeded Iowa in the second round, shot 55% after halftime with six 3-pointers. As third-seeded Iowa State (28-7) made a desperate comeback to cut a 13-point deficit to three, the Bluejays maintained control by knocking down enough free throws to keep the Cyclones and Associated Press second-team All-American Ashley Joens at arm’s distance.

Rembao was key in that, making 6 of 8 in the final 45 seconds.

“I told them, you want to keep advancing because that’s the goal,” Flanery said. “But I also want to just keep coaching this team. So that’s kind of what I was thinking, was I just love coaching this team because it’s different people, different nights.”

Emily Ryan had 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists to lead Iowa State, which shot just 38%. Joens had 14 points but made just 3 of 11 shots and got much of her production at the line (7 of 7).

Iowa State was in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010.

“We knew going into this game basketball is a make shot-miss-shot game,” longtime Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly said. “Especially with these two teams. They made a lot of tough shots tonight, and, unfortunately, we couldn’t get the ball in the basket when we needed it.”

BIG PICTURE

Creighton: The Bluejays had showed plenty of composure by beating the Hawkeyes last weekend on the road, led by Lauren Jensen’s late 3-pointer. This time, they played with confidence in the third quarter and didn’t panic as the Cyclones inched closer and closer.

Iowa State: Iowa State’s win against Georgia last weekend provided a measure of redemption for a team that missed on a chance to go to last year’s Sweet 16 by losing on a last-second overtime shot to Texas A&M. Fennelly said he had thanked his players “50 times” for getting him back to this point and encouraged them to enjoy the moment. But they couldn’t quite follow that with another step to the program’s first Elite Eight since 2009.

TAKING OVER

Creighton’s biggest lead, 66-53, came on back-to-back drives from near the 3-point arc from Payton Brotzki – with no helpside rotation to stop her – followed by a big 3-pointer from Rembao at the 7:16 mark.

Creighton made 12 of 19 shots (63.2%) with five 3s in the third quarter.

DEFNDING JOENS

Joens came in averaging 20.5 points, but she headed to the bench with two fouls midway through the second quarter and never got in much of a groove.

She had just five points on 1-for-5 shooting by the break and went scoreless in the fourth quarter despite playing all 10 minutes.

“They did a great job defensively just staying on us, kind of knowing our personnel and how to guard,” Joens said.

SAVORING THE MOMENT

Flanery eventually made his way to the postgame celebration but was more subdued than his players, offering a big smile and two thumbs-up to the crowd.

The players couldn’t wait for the locker room to bring out the water bottles, instead dousing Maly as she did a TV interview at midcourt, and then again when she rejoined the team.

“I just love playing with this team, and it makes the celebrations so much better,” said Maly, who made 7 of 10 shots with three 3-pointers.

McGusty, Miami beat Iowa State 70-56 in Sweet 16

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
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CHICAGO — Kameron McGusty and Miami jumped into passing lanes, challenged Iowa State’s shots and generally made life quite difficult for the Cyclones.

Turns out the Hurricanes play defense, too – at an Elite level.

McGusty scored 27 points and Miami advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time, pulling away for a 70-56 win over Iowa State 70-56 in the NCAA Tournament on Friday night.

Jordan Miller added 16 points on 6-of-6 shooting as No. 10 seed Miami more than held its own in a matchup of two of the tourney’s most stingy teams. The 11th-seeded Cyclones shot 32% from the field in the second half and finished with 18 turnovers.

“I can’t stop smiling. It’s just crazy,” a grinning Miller said. “I love these guys.”

With Charlie Moore directing the attack in his hometown, the Hurricanes (26-10) got their first win in the school’s fourth appearance in the Sweet 16. Next up is No. 1 seed Kansas – a 66-61 winner over Providence – on Sunday for a spot in the Final Four.

“The guys did a great job from start to finish. I’m very, very excited for them,” said Miami coach Jim Larranaga, who led George Mason to the Final Four in 2006. “They’re an amazing group. They earned that today because they beat a very fine opponent.”

Much was made of Iowa State’s hard-nosed defense after the Cyclones (22-13) shut down LSU and Wisconsin in the first two rounds, advancing to the Midwest Region semifinals after the school had just two wins last season. But Iowa State had trouble staying in front of McGusty and company at times, and the Hurricanes’ athleticism also bothered the Cyclones when they had the ball.

Iowa State forced 14 turnovers after Miami turned it over just seven times combined in its previous two games, but the Hurricanes shot 46% from the field. The Cyclones allowed 33.3% shooting over their first two tourney games.

“They did a better job than we did in terms of disruption and creating live-ball turnovers,” Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “They made some timely shots when we made our runs as well.”

Gabe Kalscheur scored 13 points for Iowa State, and freshman Tyrese Hunter had 13 points and seven assists. Izaiah Brockington finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.

“It was a special run,” senior forward George Conditt IV said.

The Cyclones pulled within one on Kalscheur’s jumper with 16:28 left. But the Hurricanes responded with a 10-2 run. Isaiah Wong’s 3-pointer – one of nine on the night for Miami – made it 46-37 with 12:23 to go.

Iowa State made a couple charges down the stretch, but McGusty made a 3 and converted a layup to help Miami answer each time. When Sam Waardenburg connected from deep and Miller made two foul shots to make it 60-46 with 2:47 to go, the celebration was on for the Hurricanes.

Waardenburg had 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Moore scored each of his seven points in the second half and finished with nine assists.

“This means a lot,” McGusty said. “I look at it as a new foundation for our basketball program.”

Moore was back in Chicago after starring for Morgan Park in high school and playing for DePaul during a college career that also included stops at California and Kansas. Conditt also got to play in his hometown in his senior season.

Moore set up Miller for a pair of layups while helping Miami to a 32-29 halftime lead. Conditt had eight points at halftime, including a big jam over Waardenburg and a rebound dunk.

NOT BAD AT ALL

McGusty, a sixth-year redshirt senior, was 10 for 18 from the field. He also had six rebounds and four of Miami’s 11 steals.

BIG PICTURE

Iowa State: It was the Cyclones’ first loss in 16 nonconference games. They didn’t have enough playmakers to keep up with Miami, especially in the second half.

Miami: No stranger to March success, Larranaga has his Hurricanes playing with poise and confidence. Their seeding is only one better than George Mason’s during its extraordinary 2006 run.

Hunter scores 23 as Iowa State edges LSU in NCAA tourney

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — Freshman Tyrese Hunter scored 23 points and Iowa State made itself at home in Milwaukee once again, using its hard-nosed defense to beat No. 6 seed LSU 59-54 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night.

Izaiah Brockington added 19 points as the 11th-seeded Cyclones (21-12) got their first win in the NCAA tourney since 2017 – also in Milwaukee. They held the Tigers to 37% shooting and forced 19 turnovers, stopping a three-game slide.

Hunter, who grew up in nearby Racine, made six of his seven 3-pointers in the second half, sending coach T.J. Otzelberger to one sweet victory. The 44-year-old Otzelberger grew up in Milwaukee, went to Wisconsin-Whitewater and began his coaching career at Catholic Central High School in Burlington.

Otzelberger was hired after Iowa State won just two games last season. Now the Cyclones are into the second round of the Midwest Region, where they will face the Colgate-Wisconsin winner on Sunday.

Tari Eason scored 18 points for LSU, and senior Darius Days had 14. But they didn’t get much help.

It was the first game for the Tigers since coach Will Wade was fired last weekend amid allegations of NCAA violations. Associate head coach Bill Armstrong also was let go.

An LSU fan in the stands behind the team’s bench held up a sign that read “Win For WADE” as the game got started.

Kevin Nickelberry was elevated to interim coach, and the Tigers turned in their usual stellar effort on defense. But they struggled on the other side. The team also received a technical for having too many players on the court at one point in the second half.

Iowa State, which shot 36% from the field, opened a 50-39 lead on Brockington’s 3 with 7:09 left. But LSU responded with an 11-1 run.

After Days’ foul shot got the Tigers within one, Hunter connected on a long 3 to give the Cyclones some room. He nailed another long one from a similar spot with 19 seconds left, lifting his team to a 59-54 lead.

In between all the missed shots and turnovers, each team had its moments. Hunter had an acrobatic layup early on, and then beat the shot clock with a 3-pointer for a 24-12 lead with 6:37 left in the first half.

But LSU came right back. Eric Gaines had a huge block on a driving Brockington with 4:35 left, part of a 7-0 run for the Tigers to close the first half.

The halftime numbers were bleak; Iowa State was 9 for 27 from the field, and LSU was 7 for 27 with 10 turnovers.

CLOSE TIES

Hunter played for Nick Bennett at St. Catherine’s High School. Bennett is the cousin of Virginia coach Tony Bennett and the nephew of former Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett.

BIG PICTURE

LSU: The coaching search is on. Look for athletic director Scott Woodward to try for another big name after hiring football coach Brian Kelly from Notre Dame, Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey from Baylor and baseball coach Jay Johnson from Arizona.

Iowa State: It wasn’t pretty, but the Cyclones will take it. They very nearly squandered their big lead down the stretch.

No. 3 Baylor beats Iowa State, 75-68, for share of Big 12 title

Iowa State v Baylor
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WACO, Texas – The confetti rained down after third-ranked Baylor repeated as Big 12 champions with a much different group than a year ago, when the Bears went on to win their first national championship.

This is definitely one of the reasons guard James Akinjo transferred to Baylor. Big-time freshmen Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan also played significant parts.

Akinjo scored 20 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:37 left, and the Bears beat Iowa State 75-68 on Saturday night to clinch a share of the Big 12 title. Baylor had fallen behind after building a 25-point lead in the game’s first 12 minutes.

“We learned that we’re tough, and we’re resilient,” said Akinjo, who was Arizona’s leading scorer last season after previously playing at Georgetown.

Baylor (26-5, 14-4) had never won a Big 12 title before claiming it outright last season. The Bears are conference co-champs this time with sixth-ranked Kansas (25-6, 14-4), which has won or shared it 20 times in the Big 12’s 26 seasons.

“With all the injuries and things we’ve had to overcome this year, and it’s really hard to win a game when you know that if you win, you’re a champion,” coach Scott Drew said. “And if you lose, everything that you worked for was for naught, basically.”

Big man Flo Thamba was the only starter back for Baylor, though he was interchangeable with fellow returning forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, the player known as “Everyday Jon” who suffered a season-ending knee injury last month. The Bears started this season without talented and selfless pro-bound guards All-American Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague. Forward Mark Vital also left after five seasons.

Brown had 16 points, 10 rebounds and a huge block. Adam Flagler scored 13 points for Baylor and Sochan 12.

Gabe Kalscheur had 18 points for Iowa State (20-11, 7-11), which went from trailing 29-4 at the under-eight timeout in the first half to a 60-58 lead just before that same timeout in the second half. The Cyclones got back-to-back 3s from Tyrese Hunter and Caleb Grill before turning Baylor’s turnover into a go-ahead layup by Aljaz Kunc.

That was a 56-29 spurt for the Cyclones, who were coming off a 53-36 loss to Oklahoma State in their home finale that snapped a four-game winning streak.

“We just came out flat and they stomped us right away. So I mean it was hard coming back and fighting back, but we did it,” Kalscheur said. “That’s something for us to be proud about.”

The game was tied at 62 for nearly three minutes before Kalscheur made a tiebreaking jumper with 3:52 left to end a span when both teams missed four shots and each missed free throws in one-plus-one situations. It was in that span that Brown blocked a driving Robert Jones before Sochan drew a charge against the Cyclones big man.

Baylor then went ahead to stay on the long 3 by Akinjo, and he added a driving reverse layup after Brown rebounded a missed free throw by Thamba.

The Bears were out to a 23-4 lead midway through the first half of their game, and had just scored the 16th of 22 consecutive points on a free throw by Sochan, when Kansas wrapped up its 70-63 overtime win at home over No. 21 Texas. Baylor and Kansas split their two meetings, including the Bears winning 80-70 at home a week ago.

Kansas will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, because the Jayhawks split their games with third-place Texas Tech. The Bears lost both of their games to the 12th-ranked Red Raiders.

Jones had a season-high 12 points for Iowa State, three layups and a dunk in an 85-second to end his team’s early long shooting drought. Izaiah Brockington had 11 points and freshman Hunter had 13 assists.

BIG PICTURE

Iowa State: Despite consecutive losses to end the regular season, the Cyclones’ 20 wins are already a plus-18 turnaround from last season. That is a school record and the most ever for a Big 12 team with a first-year coach. (T.J. Otzelberger). … Iowa State shot 47.5% overall from the field, remarkable considering 14 missed shots in a row over a span of 8 1/2 minutes when falling behind in the first half.

Baylor: The Bears played their 308th game hey played 122 for him before for getting ranked. … They are 42-8 the past two seasons, the best record among major conference teams.

UP NEXT

The Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, with both playing Thursday. Baylor will play Oklahoma in the first game of the night session, followed by Iowa State taking on Texas Tech.