AMES – The third-seeded Cyclones scored the game’s first 11 points, built a 22-point lead before halftime and rolled past sixth-seeded Georgia 67-44 at Hilton Coliseum on Sunday night to reach their first regional semifinal in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament since 2010.
They did it with balanced scoring and a packed-in zone defense that kept the taller Lady Bulldogs away from the basket and lifted the Cyclones (28-6) to a school record for victories. Georgia (21-10) never got untracked offensively and Iowa State made the shots it needed to stay safely ahead once it opened its big lead.
Lexi Donarksi led four double-figure scorers with 20 points, including four 3-pointers and a perfect night at the free throw line – 6-for-6. Emily Ryan added 15 points and set a single-season record for assists and Ashley Joens, the focus of Georgia’s defense, added 12 points and 10 rebounds for her 18th double-double of the season.
Morgan Kane also made a big contribution with 10 points and six rebounds, while Nyamer Diew put up five points, three rebounds and two assists before leaving the game after getting hit in the face in the third quarter.
Iowa State will try to extend its postseason run on Friday in Greensboro, N.C., against 10th-seeded Creighton, which upset second-seeded Iowa 64-62 in Iowa City earlier Sunday.
Ryan, who needed five assists to set the record, handed out nine to increase her total to 243. She also grabbed six rebounds and made two steals. She got the record-breaker on a feed to Kane for a layup at the start of the third quarter for a 39-18 lead.
The Cyclones went on to lead by as many as 26 and handed Georgia its most one-sided loss of the season. Jenna Staiti’s 14 points led the Lady Bulldogs, who shot just 30.6 percent and went 4-for-16 from 3-point range.