As many of you may know, Iowa State is one of just 13 schools in the country to have made the last eight NCAA Tournaments – a pretty impressive feat. Under head coach Bill Fennelly’s leadership, the Cyclones have flourished. Fennelly took a program with just five winning seasons in 22 years and made it into a program that is a consistent contender in the world of women’s college basketball.
On the eve of Iowa State’s eighth-straight NCAA Championship appearance, I think it’s important to take a look back at the last eight appearances and the teams that got them there.
The 2007 NCAA Tournament team, captained by Lyndsey Medders, Megan Ronhovde and Abby Reinert, earned a six-seed and advanced to the second round of the Big Dance after defeating Washington in the first round in dominate fashion, 79-60. The win earned ISU a date with three-seed Georgia, who defeated the Cyclones 76-56 in the second round in Minneapolis, Minn. Medders led ISU in the tournament with 19 assists in just two games, which stands as the third-most assists in a single tournament by a Cyclone.
The Cyclones didn’t have to travel far for the 2008 NCAA Tournament, with Des Moines the selected destination for this group. Iowa State earned a seven-seed and in thrilling fashion defeated 10-seed Georgia Tech 58-55 in a back-and-forth affair. With a win, the Cyclones advanced to take on two-seed Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights would shoot 54 percent from the floor, forcing the Cyclones to play catch-up for most of the game. The strong shooting was just too much for ISU to handle, as the Cyclones fell 69-58 in the second round.
Iowa State’s third-straight NCAA Tournament began in record-breaking fashion as the Cyclones tied the NCAA record with 16 3-pointers in the first round game against ETSU. The Cyclones would cruise to the Sweet 16, downing their opponents by 32 and 14 points, respectively. Iowa State would meet Michigan State in the Sweet 16, and would claw its way to a thrilling 69-68 victory over the Spartans after finding themselves trailing 68-61 with 1:23 remaining. With the win, the Cyclones earned the program’s second Elite Eight berth in school history. ISU would eventually fall to No. 1 Seed Stanford in the Elite Eight.
Iowa State would open the 2010 NCAA Tournament in high-flying fashion with a 79-42 rout of Lehigh, pushing the Cyclones into the second round. ISU would top Green Bay, 60-56, to earn the program’s fifth Sweet 16 appearance. Iowa State would meet top-ranked UConn in the Sweet 16, and fall to the Huskies ending another memorable season.
The Cyclones entered the tournament with a 22-10 record, earning a seven- seed in the NCAA Tournament. Iowa State would travel to Durham, N.C. to face 10th-seeded Marist. The Cyclones would fall to Marist, 74-64, after the Red Foxes started out strong and ISU was never able to catch up. The loss would halt a four-game first-round winning streak (2007-10).
The Cyclones had a tough season, entering the tournament as the No. 10 seed with an 18-13 record. ISU faced No. 7 seed Green Bay, as the Phoenix came to Hilton Coliseum boasting a 30-1 record and a ranking of No. 7 in the nation. The Cyclones couldn’t keep up, falling 71-57.
With a 23-8 record and a second-place finish in the Big 12 Tournament, Iowa State earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament and a trip to Spokane Wash. ISU defeated Gonzaga on its home court, 72-60, to advance to the NCAA second round, but dropped a heartbreaker to Georgia, 65-60. Chelsea Poppens led Iowa State with 14 points and 17 rebounds, while Anna Prins led ISU in scoring with 23 points.
The season is not yet over for this Iowa State team. With a school record 14-0 start to begin the season, the hopes were high and the Cyclones delivered with their eighth-straight NCAA appearance. We hope to see the always impressive Hilton crowd on Saturday as Iowa State takes on Florida State on Saturday at 3 p.m.