Nothing we can do about not getting a 4 seed now... nothing to look back on regarding the Big 12 Tournament now... It’s all about the NCAA Tournament and the Toledo Rockets.
Heading to Knoxville as the 5th seed in the “Seattle 3” quadrant of the bracket, the Cyclones take on an all too familiar foe: Toledo
The place where Bill Fennelly coached prior to Iowa State would be the Cyclones first round opponent with the winner of #4 Tennessee and #13 St. Louis awaiting them in the round of 32.
As we got things underway in this one, a couple of things were made very obvious (at least to me.)
- Toledo is way better than a 12 seed. Riding a 16-game win streak should’ve meant more to be completely honest, and they’re a damn fun team to watch.
- Iowa State was going to need their A-game today. Toledo was ready to take on the Cyclones offensively and defensively and made that apparent right off the bat.
Sophia Wiard started hot for the Rockets, but in the first quarter, Ashley Joens went toe-to-toe with her and whatever Toledo had to offer. A high-flying 1st quarter had the Cyclones holding a slim 3-point lead at 23-20.
The 2nd quarter was about as poor a quarter as you could draw up from a Cyclone standpoint. Toledo continued to score baskets at will as the Cyclones struggled to score anything from anywhere on the floor. 3s weren’t falling, fouls weren’t coming (on one end anyway...), and layups weren’t dropping, as the Cyclones gave up a 12-0 run over an almost five-and-a-half minute timeframe in the middle of the quarter. Toledo took the lead by as many as 9 in the second quarter and held the lead at 7 at the break as the Cyclones were able to score 4 points in the final 10 seconds to try and get some momentum going in their favor at the half.
The third quarter was most of the same struggles from the Cyclones as Toledo continued to score at will, continuing to build their lead by as many as 15 with 1:20 to go in the 3rd before Iowa State once again built a bit of a run to close the quarter, getting it to a manageable 8-point deficit with 10 minutes to play.
After a pair of Emily Ryan free throws just before the seven-minute mark to go in the game closed it to a 5-point lead, Toledo got a layup with a questionable at best foul on Lexi Donarski to extend the lead back to 8 and things never really got collected for Iowa State the remainder of the game. Toledo knocked down 8 of 8 free throws in the final minute and change and just as quickly as the season started, it ended. Just a week after winning the Big 12 Tournament for the first time in 20 years, the Cyclones fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 80-73.
For Morgan Kane, Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw, Beatriz Jordao, and Ashley Joens, this was likely the last time we see them dawning the cardinal and gold. We await the status of Stephanie Soares getting a waiver to return for one more year. The other four have put together some of the best years of Cyclone women’s basketball in program history. Upsets, rivalry wins, championships, and several broken records. This group of Cyclones will always be remembered in ISU history.
Thank you, Morgan, Maggie, Beatriz, Stephanie, and Ashley for all the memories inside and outside Ames, Iowa. Cyclone Nation wishes you all the best moving forward whether that’s basketball or otherwise.
Loyal. Forever. True.