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Cyclones ready to make a commitment

March 11, 2008
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly made it simple for his players to understand.

“Finish everything you do.

“People who have the ability to finish are unique,” he said. “Anyone can start, anyone can do it when it’s convenient, anyone can do it in the middle of the season when if you win or lose there’s always another game.”

The Cyclones must understand now that there likely will not be another game. At least he doesn’t want them to consider the fact that there is anything else but the current game, which today will be Iowa State’s opening-round contest against Colorado.

Iowa State (18-11) received the eighth seed for the Big 12 Championship, which runs through Saturday at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. The Cyclones meet No. 9 seed Colorado (16-13) at noon today in a game that will be televised by Mediacom.

The Cyclones won both games of the regular season series in Big 12 Conference play, winning the most recent pairing by 20 points — 65-45 — on Jan. 30 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames. The first meeting was a double-overtime doozy in which the host Buffaloes fell on their home court, 84-77.

A pair of underclassmen have done most of the damage against Colorado this year, with sophomore Alison Lacey and freshman Kelsey Bolte scoring in bundles against the Buffaloes.

Bolte has put up 21 and 15 points in respective pairings with Colorado, while Lacey is averaging 21 points against the Buffaloes this season.

In four career games against Colorado, Lacey has not yet scored less than 10 points.

Iowa State has faced the hardest part of its schedule in the last month, going 3-4 with a 1-3 record against ranked teams — all from the Big 12. One of the losses was a 45-42 defeat at then-No. 22 Kansas State.

The Cougars (21-8) — now ranked 15th in the nation — won the Big 12 regular season crown and, as the top seed, have a first-round bye while awaiting the winner of the third meeting of the year between Iowa State and Colorado.

The top seed has never been beaten by either the eighth- or ninth-seeded team in 11 tries in the Big 12 Championships.

The Buffaloes have won three of their last five games, including a 73-68 home triumph over Kansas State. Colorado is led by senior forward Jackie McFarland, who is averaging 17.8 points and 8.1 rebounds to lead the Buffaloes in both categories. Freshman Brittany Spears adds 13.6 points and 7.6 boards per outing.Colorado won nine straight games earlier this season to earn a national ranking as high as 23rd, but a double-overtime loss to Iowa State started the Buffaloes on a string of three losses in their next four games to fall from the Top 25.

Lacey torched Colorado for seven 3-pointers and a career-high 27 points to go along with eight assists in the Cyclone victory. McFarland led all players with 28 points in that game, with Spears adding 21.

In their most recent meeting, Feb. 6 in Ames, Spears was held scoreless in ISU’s 20-point rout. Four Cyclones scored in double figures, led by Amanda Nisleit’s 16.

Wednesday’s quarterfinal contest will also start at noon. That game will be televised by Fox Sports Net.

“This is where you really learn about how committed you are individually and collectively,” Fennelly said.

Fact Box

Big 12 Conference Women’s Tournament
At Municipal Auditorium,
Kansas City, Mo.

First Round
Iowa State (18-11) vs. Colorado (16-13), noon
Oklahoma (21-7) vs. Missouri (9-20), 2:30 p.m.
Texas (19-11) vs. Texas Tech (16-14), 6 p.m.
Nebraska (20-10) vs. Kansas (15-14), 8:30 p.m.

Kansas State (21-8) vs. Iowa State-Colorado winner, 1 p.m.
Texas A&M (23-7) vs. Oklahoma-Missouri winner, 3:30 p.m.
Baylor (24-5) vs. Texas-Texas Tech winner, 7 p.m.
Oklahoma St. (23-6) vs. Nebraska-Kansas winner, 9:30 p.m.

Kansas St.—Iowa St.-Colorado winner vs. Texas A&M—Oklahoma-Missouri winner, 6 p.m.
Baylor—Texas-Texas Tech winner vs. Oklahoma St.—Nebraska-Kansas winner, 8:30 p.m.

Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.



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