Here is everything you need to know about the Iowa State Cyclones and the UT-Arlington Lady Mavericks in our Iowa State vs. UT-Arlington NCAA Tournament women’s basketball preview.
Greensboro Region – First Round
No. 3 Iowa State (26-6) vs. No. 14 UT-Arlington (20-7), 9 p.m., Friday, ESPNU, Hilton Coliseum, Ames, Iowa
How They Got Here: Iowa State was an at-large selection from the Big 12. UT-Arlington won the Sun Belt Conference’s automatic bid.
Winner Gets: A second-round meeting with the Georgia-Dayton winner on Sunday.
Projected starting lineups
Iowa State: G Emily Ryan, G/F Ashley Joens, G Lexi Donarski, F Nyamer Diew, F Morgan Kane.
UT-Arlington: G Terryn Milton, G Claire Christian, G Katie Ferrell, F Shyia Smith, F Starr Jacobs.
Players to watch
Iowa State G Emily Ryan: The sophomore is one of the best guards in the Big 12, and the NCAA Tournament gives Ryan a chance to show the entire country. She’s done a tremendous job making sure things work for the Cyclones all season, and it shows in the numbers. Her 228 assists (7.1 per game) is second all-time for a single season, and if Ryan dishes out 12 more then she’ll own that record (to go along with the single-game records for assists and steals, which she claimed earlier this season). Her assist average is fourth-best in the country, and she’s had at least 10 assists in a game six times this season. Best of all, her scoring average of 12.5 points means defenses have to respect her offense. Fouling her isn’t an option, either. She’s an 86 percent free-throw shooter.
UT-Arlington F Starr Jacobs: She’s the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year after finishing the regular season with 20.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. She is the first player in Lady Mavericks history to average more than 20 points per game in the regular season. Then she picked up her game in the Sun Belt Tournament, as she led UTA to a Sun Belt Tournament title by averaging 28 points and 10 rebounds per game. In fact, she scored 28 points in all three tournament games. She is No. 12 in the nation in scoring per game with 21.1 points. No one has held Jacobs below double digits all season and she’s scored at least 20 points in more than half of her games. A successful night for UTA means Jacobs had a big night.
Iowa State: Senior Ashley Joens has had a magnificent season, and she was just named an AP All-American Second Teamer on Wednesday. Combined with Ryan and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Lexi Donarski, the Cyclones have a big three to take into the NCAA Tournament. But, perhaps it might not mean that much if the Cyclones can’t get out of the first or second round. Iowa State has tried plenty for the past decade or more, but their last eight NCAA Tournament appearances have ended in the first or second round. Iowa State’s last run to at least the Sweet 16 came in 2010. If Iowa State is going to get back there again, they’ll need a big weekend from Joens, Ryan and Donarski.
UT-Arlington: From a UTA standpoint, this is as big as it gets for the program. The Lady Mavs won the Sun Belt Tournament title for the first time to secure their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2007. UTA did it in dominant fashion, leading nearly every minute of their three Sun Belt Tournament games. UTA made two previous appearances in 2005 and 2007, losing both games. Both of those games, oddly, were against either a current Big 12 team (Texas Tech) or a former Big 12 team (Texas A&M). In both of those cases, the Lady Mavs were No. 14 seeds.
Not only have the Mavericks never played the Cyclones before, the Mavericks have never played a team from the state of Iowa before.
Iowa State 74, UT-Arlington 62. Iowa State isn’t going to let this chance slip away. Not at home.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.