By Brent Blum, CycloneFanatic.com Contributor
Kansas City – The fifth-seeded Iowa State Cyclones are set to meet the fourth-seeded Kansas State Wildcats in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Tournament. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 Wenesday afternoon. The game can be seen on FSN.
The Cyclones survived a scare in the opening round, holding off Nebraska 69-61 in a closely contested game. With the game tied at 57 and five minutes to play, Iowa State put things away with a 12-4 spurt.
Cyclone junior point-guard Lauren Mansfield scored a career-high 23 points in the win. Senior Kelsey Bolte added 15 points and sophomore Chelsea Poppens had 11 points and 10 rebounds–her fourth double-double of the season.
“It was a game that we kind of anticipated it would be. First tournament game, a little bit of jitters,” Bill Fennelly said. “But like I told the kids after the game, you just have to move to the right (in the bracket), survive the game and forget about anything bad you did.”
The win sends Iowa State into a match-up with Kansas State–a team that they have defeated two times already this season. The Cyclones defeated the Wildcats 61-53 at Hilton Coliseum on February 13th and won in Manhattan 58-51 on February 26th.
Iowa State is second in the conference in scoring defense giving up just over 54 points per game, while K-State is third, allowing a shade over 55 points per game.
“We play low-scoring, hard-fought games with them,” Fennelly said.
The Wildcats are led by first-team All-Big 12 performer Brittany Chambers. The sophomore averaged 16 points, six rebounds and almost three assists this season. She also hit a team high 81 treys this season, which tied Kelsey Bolte for second in the conference.
“They can really shoot the ball,” Mansfield said. “Wide range-shooters with Chambers, that will be something that we are really concentrating on.
They have also been sparked by the play of junior Jalana Childs. The post has caused the Cyclones some troubles this season, scoring 21 points in the meeting in Ames and 18 in the match-up in Manhattan. It is especially an issue because Cyclone forward Amanda Zimmerman may be unable to play as she continues to recover from an illness.
“The challenge for us will be to stay out of foul trouble. We aren’t very deep without “Z,” Fennelly said.
Because of the lack of depth, fatigue may also be a concern. The 24-hour turnaround between games is a difficult necessity this time of year.
“We’re going to prepare like we always do,” Bolte said. “Obviously stay off our feet. Get everyone ready and we’ll be ready to go.”
The Cyclone head coach agrees.
“If you’re the fourth-seed than you talk about the extra rest, if you’re the five seed, you’re glad you played and are used to the court,” Fennelly said. “The alternative is being on a bus back to Ames. If you weren’t playing, you’d be practicing. And they’re looking at me like ‘Let’s just play’ because this practice thing is getting old.”