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Iowa State to host after earning 3 seed

AMES — The Iowa State University women’s basketball team knew it had done enough to earn a bid to the NCAA Division I Tournament, but where it would be seeded was still a mystery.

That riddle was solved on Monday, earlier than expected, as the brackets were revealed and the Cyclone women were listed as the No. 3 seed in the Chicago Region.

Because of being one of the top 16 seeds in the field, Iowa State gets to host the first two rounds of the tournament in Ames, where the Cyclones will face off with No. 14 seed New Mexico State at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said his girls earned their seeding with how they closed the season, making the Big 12 Conference Tournament final where it fell to No. 1 seed Baylor.

“We thought we could get to a three, I thought this team played really well, the way we played Texas, the way we played Baylor for most of the game put us in that position,” he said. “It’s a great regional, we have four great teams in this little pod and I think it will be a good fanbase. I am looking forward to putting on a good show, we always do in Hilton. There won’t be a better section for the first and second round in the country than right here at Hilton.”

Also playing in Ames will be sixth-seeded DePaul and No. 11 seed Missouri State. The winner of Iowa State-New Mexico State will face the winner of DePaul-Missouri State in Ames on Monday.

The Cyclones (25-8) earned a three seed for the first time since 2002, while the selection was the 17th total for the program and 17th under Fennelly.

New Mexico State (26-6) won the Western Athletic Conference regular season and tournament. The Aggies come into the tournament with a 17-game winning streak.

Iowa State senior Bridget Carleton, the Big 12 Player of the Year, said having a chance to play at home for possibly two more games is a great way to wrap up her final season.

“Obviously our goal is to make the tournament every year, but to be a three seed and get a couple more games hopefully at Hilton is unbelievable,” she said. “We love playing at home so we are super excited.”

The game between the Cyclones and Aggies at 4:30 p.m. on Friday at Hilton Coliseum will be broadcast on ESPN 2.