Iowa State women escape with 78-71 win over UT Arlington

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Ashley Joens scored a season-high 36 points and third-seeded Iowa State rallied to beat No. 14 seed UT Arlington 78-71 on Friday night in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

The Mavericks were bidding to be the first 14-seed to ever win a game in the tournament and led by 12 in the first half before the Cyclones (27-6) came back.

“Honestly, it was just a matter of keep trying to win the next play,” Iowa State guard Emily Ryan said. “Just try to win the possession we’re on and find our way back into the game.”

Ryan, who finished with 20 points, made a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 64 and followed with a layup to give the Cyclones the lead. Joens hit a 3-pointer that gave Iowa State a 73-67 cushion with 1:43 left and that was enough for the Cyclones to avoid the upset.

“Emily does an amazing job of understanding the game, what she needs to do at the right time,” Joens said. “She did that really well.”

Joens scored more points than any Cyclone ever in an NCAA Tournament game, finishing just five points shy of her career high.

“Probably the definition of survive and advance for this tournament is what you can see from our team tonight,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “I was really impressed with UT Arlington.”

Starr Jacobs finished with 19 points for the Mavericks (20-8).

UT Arlington shot 67% in the first quarter and jumped to a 22-14 lead. A 3-pointer by Camryn Hawkins gave the Mavericks a 29-18 advantage early in the second period. Katie Ferrell followed with another 3-pointer to make it 37-25.

Iowa State rallied a bit with a 7-0 run. Joens, who had a career-best 41 points against Wright State on Dec. 15, 2019, hit the Cyclones’ first 3-pointer of the night, closing the gap to 39-35.

UT Arlington was up 41-35 at halftime. The Cyclones finally went on top when another Joens 3-pointer gave Iowa State a 49-48 edge with 4:34 left in the third quarter.

Joens and Ryan combined to score six points in the final minute of the period and Iowa State led 57-54 going into the fourth quarter.

“Iowa State is a tremendous basketball team,” UT Arlington coach Shereka Wright said. “But I am so proud of those women in my locker room tonight. They battled. They competed. They stayed together.”

HOME COURT

Iowa State now owns an all-time record of 12-5 when hosting a game at Hilton Coliseum, and 20-19 overall. UT Arlington arrived Friday with an 0-2 record in the NCAAs and had not beaten a Power Five school since November 2019.

OFF TARGET EARLY

Iowa State entered Friday’s game shooting 38.9% from 3-point range, second-best in the nation. But the Cyclones missed their first eight attempts from behind the arc against UT Arlington.

STREAK CONTINUES

Fourteen seeds are now 0-109 since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1994. A 15 seed has also never won a game.

UP NEXT

Iowa State advances to play No. 6 seed Georgia in a second-round matchup on Sunday.

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More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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