Ten years after Iowa State first crashed the party into women’s college basketball’s elite, the Cyclones are back, one win away from the Final Four. Wow.
Do they have one more great performance left in them?
If you thought Saturday’s incredible comeback against Michigan State from seven points down in the final 83 seconds was as good as it gets, winning Monday — in any fashion — would be epic.
It won’t come easy.
Standing in the way is last year’s national runner-up Stanford, an 84-66 winner over No. 3 seed Ohio State later Saturday night.
The second-seeded Cardinal enter Monday night’s Elite Eight game (8 p.m. Iowa time on ESPN) as decided favorites. Here’s why:
– Stanford routed ISU early on this season, winning 83-45 back on Nov. 29 at the Waikki Beach Marriott Classic in Honolulu. Freshmen reserves Whitney Williams and Ashley Arlen were the Cyclones’ leading scorers that day, if that tells you anything.
– The Cardinal has great athleticism and fantastic size, while ISU’s frontcourt is limping in, literally, with starting forward Nicky Wieben clearly not at full strength with her sprained left foot.
– The last team to beat top-ranked Connecticut, being talked about as the greatest team ever? Stanford last March in a national semifinal.
– A majority of fans at Haas Pavilion will be on Stanford’s side, despite the arena being the home of Pac-10 rival California.
– ISU’s NCAA wins thus far have come agianst seeds numbered 13, 12 and 9. That’s not the Cyclones’ fault — they’ve beaten the opponent who’s been in front of them — but it’s a reason to believe they haven’t been pushed by a team as good or better.
If the No. 4 seeded Cyclones are to improve on their 27-8 record and break the school record for victories — set during that 1998-99 Elite Eight team with Stacy Frese, Megan Taylor and the rest of the crew — they’ll have to be close to perfect.
It’s been almost four months since the teams first played, and they are certainly at different stages right now. Both obviously are playing at a high level right now.
Regardless of what happens, Iowa State has put together quite a run over the last two weeks.
Basketball fans in the state have jumped on the bandwagon as the last team standing.
What a story it would be for the Cyclones to keep it going. The odds are against them and the women’s game doesn’t produce Cindarella teams like ISU very often, but, hey, isn’t March the month dreams come true?