LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Iowa State just couldn’t overcome Dayton’s hot shooting.
“It wasn’t our day,” said senior Brynn Williamson, whose career ends, along with those of fellow seniors Fallon Ellis and Nikki Moody. Moody finished with 17 points while Williamson and Ellis combined for 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Ally Malott had 18 points and 12 rebounds to help the seventh-seeded Flyers beat the No. 10 Cyclones 78-66 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday to end Iowa State’s season.
First in the Atlantic-10 conference this season in field goal percentage, Dayton continued that trend into the post-season; it shot 48 percent, including 16-of-28 in the first half. Malott was efficient in scoring her 18 points, going 7-of-13 from the field.
Nicole Kidd Blaskowski’s 3-pointer cut Iowa State’s 17-point deficit to seven with 2:35remaining. But that was as close as the Cyclones would come before succumbing to Dayton. Iowa State also had nine of its 12 turnovers in the second half.
Dayton will move on to the second round Sunday to play the winner between No. 2 Kentucky and No. 15 Tennessee State. The Cyclones finish their season 18-13.
The Flyers rode a balanced scoring approach to a 17-point lead in the second half. Four players scored in double figures, led by Andrea Hoover with 20, Malott’s 18, Saicha Grant-Allen with 13 and Kelley Austria with 11.
“We were trying a little bit of everything, trying different combinations, but that’s a very efficient offensive team,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “We tried about everything we could think of . but obviously it wasn’t to be.”
Iowa State also had four players in double figures, led by Moody, but the Cyclones went cold in the second half and made 31 percent of their shots compared to their 45-percent clip in the first half.
“There was always one mismatch on the floor, either offense or defense that we just couldn’t compensate for, whether it’s they throw it to a big guy in the post, or Ally catching the ball on the wing,” Fennelly said. “It’s kind of like there are six holes of water coming and you’ve got five fingers.”
After Iowa State pulled within seven, Dayton closed the game on an 8-3 run, highlighted by Amber Deane’s jumper and Hoover’s four free throws that put away any lingering possibility of a Cyclones comeback.
Although the Flyers built a sizable lead by the second half, there were three ties and four lead changes in the first half. Trading blows after Dayton hit three of its first four shots, the teams ended up in a 20-20 tie before Malott and Deane hit back-to-back threes and gave the Flyers a six-point cushion with 9:06 until halftime.
Iowa State pulled even with 4:35 remaining in the first half after an Emily Durr basket made it 31-31. But Dayton, which shot 57 percent from the field in the first half, went on an 11-3 run to close the half. Five different Flyers scored during that stretch, which concluded with a Hoover three-pointer with 49 seconds on the clock. Dayton headed into the break with a 42-34 advantage.
Although it ended in a loss, Fennelly said the Cyclones’ season isn’t something to be upset about. Iowa State is one of 10 programs in the country that has been to the last nine NCAA tournaments.
“I think to make nine straight NCAA tournaments, and you’re on a pretty short list, to finish tied for third in the best league in the country – the kids did a really good job,” he said. “Disappointing moments – I wouldn’t classify it as a disappointing season because we’re here today and we did some good things.”
Dayton: The Flyers were first in the A-10 this season in 3-point shooting. …The Flyers nearly doubled up Iowa State in points in the paint, scoring 30 compared to the Cyclones’ 16. … Dayton made 17-of-26 from the free-throw line, including 8-of-10 from Hoover … Dayton head coach Jim Jabir described Fennelly as a “mentor” who he has known for a couple of decades. This was the first time the coaches have played each other.
Iowa State: The Cyclones pulled off a huge win at home over Baylor, but couldn’t use that momentum in the NCAA Tournament.
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