Turnovers Doom Iowa State Against Green Bay, 71-57
AMES, Iowa (AP) — Not even coach Bill Fennelly's shamrock-speckled tie could turn Iowa State's fortunes against Green Bay.
When your team commits 30 turnovers, there's no lucky charm strong enough to offset that.
Seventh-seeded Green Bay harassed No. 10 seed Iowa State from the start and rolled past the Cyclones 71-57 on Saturday night in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
"We played a lot of really good teams this season, but their defense is one of the best I've seen," Iowa State's Brynn Williamson said. "Not just the fact they're making us turn the ball over — they're converting off those turnovers as well."
Green Bay (31-1), which felt it deserved better than a No. 7 seed, jumped on Iowa State from the opening tip. The Phoenix forced a staggering 19 first-half turnovers in building a 42-23 lead and led by as many as 22 in the second half. The Cyclones (18-13), making their sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance, executed better after halftime, but it was too late.
Every time the Cyclones threatened to make it a game, Green Bay would hit a big shot to silence the vocal crowd in ISU's Hilton Coliseum.
"I don't think we've seen quite the amount of pressure they put on us," said ISU's Chelsea Poppens, a first-team all-Big 12 pick. "They definitely could compete in the Big 12."
Despite playing better in the second half, Iowa State never got the lead below 10 points.
"We were defending better in the second half. For the most part we secured the ball a little bit better," Fennelly said. "But it was a big hole. They made a lot of big shots. You turn the ball over that many times, it's borderline impossible to win unless you do a lot of other great things, and we were far from perfect in that."
Lydia Bauer and Sarah Eichler each scored 16 points for Green Bay and Adrian Ritchie added 15 for the Phoenix, who'll take on second-seeded Kentucky in the second round Monday night.
Iowa State got within 10 with 3:01 left, but the Phoenix held on to reach the round of 32 for the third year in a row.
Hallie Christofferson led five players in double figures with 12 points for Iowa State, which lost its NCAA tournament opener for the second straight year.
Iowa State was within four with 5:29 left in the first half. But Green Bay closed the half on a decisive 20-4 run, as Bauer and Eichler each drained two 3s to make it a 19-point game.
The Cyclones made a push to close within 55-44. But the Phoenix moved the ball around and found Eichler for a 3-pointer to push Green Bay's lead back to 14 with 6:36 left.
Iowa State earned its tournament bid after a difficult season. Fennelly underwent radiation treatment for cancerous lesions on his vocal cords last fall and the Cyclones started 0-5 in the Big 12. But they regrouped to finish 9-9 in the league, good enough for the selection committee to put them in the 64-team field.
"It's been the hardest year I've ever had for a lot of reasons, and really my health isn't the big one," Fennelly said. "I would say besides my family and my administration, without them I wouldn't have made it."
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