The madness of March has begun.
On Saturday, the fifth-seeded Iowa State women’s basketball team will take on fourth-seeded Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament at 11 a.m.
The whole season has led up to this. It’s time to win, or go home.
“They’ve all played in these things they’re whole life where it’s win or go home,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said. “Whether you get to a state tournament, or you lose one game before the state tournament, or whether it’s the Big 12 Tournament.”
It will be the second straight season that the Cyclones have played the Cowgirls in their first game of the tournament. They lost last season 67-57 in Oklahoma City. The Cyclones also lost to Oklahoma State twice this season. First 63-62 loss in Ames on a last second shot, then 60-48 in Stillwater.
Iowa State has been dominated on the glass by Oklahoma State in the last two meetings – giving up a combined 29 offensive rebounds. The Cyclones also shot just 26.1 percent from the floor during the meeting inStillwater.
“They rebound the ball like crazy,” Fennelly said. “They physically just beat us up. Brynn (Williamson), and Kidd (Blaskowsky) and Emily (Durr) have struggled on the wing to score. The last time we played them down there I think our starters shot 23 percent. Nikki (Moody) was 6-26. Seanna (Johnson) was 1-12.”
Iowa State has performed well historically in Dallas – advancing all the way to the championship the last time the tournament was there in 2013.
The Cyclones will need a good performance to solidify their hopes for a bid in the NCAA Tournament. Winning just one game should make them a lock but lose to OSU and they head into Selection Monday on the bubble.
"We’ve had some really, really high moments when we’ve done things at a certain level,” Fennelly said. “You hope in March there’s another wave of that level coming.”
Those high moments include wins over conference regular season champion Baylor. They have a win over the second-place team in the Big 12, Oklahoma. And of course, there are the two wins over a highly-ranked Texas team.
The Cyclones have proven that they can play at a high level. Can they do it when it matters?
“We can beat anybody during the tournament,” Iowa State senior point guard Nikki Moody said. “Anybody can win the Big 12 championship this year.”
Everybody buckle up. The madness is beginning.