Dec 2, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; UT Arlington Mavericks forward Starr Jacobs (4) shoots over South Florida Bulls forward Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu (32) during the second half at College Park Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
After being announced as a No. 3 seed, Iowa State will open its NCAA Tournament adventure on Friday night at Hilton Coliseum (9:00 p.m. ESPNU).
The team will face No. 14 seed UT Arlington, the Sun Belt champions, in the first round of the tournament.
“I’m so excited for our program, our university, and our athletic department,” UTA Coach Shereka Wright said after the bracket was announced. “We had a great turnout tonight to celebrate this opportunity we have. It’s been a great year, to say the least. Our story has been awesome and it’s not finished yet. We are excited to be a 14 seed and head to Ames.”
Wright is in her first season at the helm in Arlington, helping the Mavericks to a 20-7 record and first NCAA Tournament birth since 2007.
As a player, she spent four seasons on the floor for Purdue and one with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury before beginning her coaching career.
Wright’s first coaching job came at Texas Tech, where she spent seven years in Lubbock as an assistant coach.
“I played there as a player and I’ve coached there as an assistant coach. I’m excited to take on the challenge,” Wright said. “Coach Fennelly has done an amazing job with his program and the culture there at Iowa State. I just look forward to the challenge.”
The Mavericks are led by Sun Belt player of the year Starr Jacobs, a redshirt junior that sits 12th in the nation in scoring, averaging 21.1 points per game.
Jacobs, a 6-foot-2 forward who transferred from Temple, has put up at least 25 points in each of her past four games. She was one rebound away from putting up a double-double in each of them.
UT Arlington’s second-leading scorer comes in Terryn Milton, a 5-foot-9 guard, who averages 12 points and 4.5 assists per game.
Although the team doesn’t have anyone else that averages a double-digit scoring mark, it has the ability to go nine players deep and receive some production from each of them. UTA averages 70 points per game, sitting just outside of the top-50 nationally in the category.
Iowa State will need to match up with Jacobs in the post, and while that hasn’t always been the strength of a typical Fennelly team, the Cyclones have handled it well this season.
Fennelly and his staff will let Jacobs get her points, but look for them to clamp down on the guards surrounding her. The game plan against teams like this – with one dynamic scorer leading the way – tends to focus on the auxiliary scorers.
If the Cyclones keep up their 10.4 3-pointers per game average and can play sound defensively, they’ll be set up well to advance to the second round again.