The Iowa State Cyclones were up 9-0 in their second-round game against Georgia in the NCAA Women’s Tournament on Sunday night at Hilton Coliseum.
Georgia was already on the ropes and needed a timeout. As Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly was speaking to his players, the energy in the arena kept building — and not just because the Cyclone women were off to a hot start.
The Iowa State fans were getting updates about the men, who were playing their second-round game against Wisconsin in Milwaukee, trying to clinch their berth in the Sweet 16.
It’s something the two teams and the Cyclones’ fan base will deal with again on Friday in the Sweet 16. The men will play Miami (FL) in the Midwest Regional on Friday. The women, meanwhile, face Creighton in the Greensboro Regional on Friday.
Yep, that’s right. The two teams are playing at the same day again. Not only that, the tip times are practically in sync.
The women are scheduled to tip off at 8:30 p.m. central time, while the men are scheduled to tip off at 8:59 p.m. central time.
On Sunday night, two teams at the same school fighting for the same goal at the same time made for an interesting vibe at Hilton.
“I think it definitely brought a little level of extra energy to Hilton and got a little buzz going and made it a lot of fun,” Cyclones guard Emily Ryan said. “Every once in a while, just peeking up and seeing what the score ways.”
The men’s game started at 5:10 p.m. central time. But, as NCAA Tournament games tend to, the game dragged a bit. As the women started their game at 7 p.m., the Cyclones were hanging onto a lead over Wisconsin as they tried to secure a berth in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2016.
As the women built their lead, the Cyclone men worked to secure their win, and with each stoppage of play, whether it be a dead ball or a time out, the women felt the energy in the room.
But, they claim they didn’t sneak another peek.
“I didn’t really get to enjoy knowing that the men’s team won, but after the fact I’m really happy for them and excited that we both get to be in the Sweet 16,” Cyclones guard Lexi Donarski said.
With the fan base split again on Friday, they will certainly be trying to sneak a peek at the other’s game, whether it be on the arena’s televisions or on their phones. The fans in Ames can hit a sports bar and watch both at the same time.
It’s an exciting time for Cyclones basketball fans. Fennelly doesn’t mind the divided loyalties as he leads his team into the Sweet 16 for the first since 2010.
“I say this all the time, and you guys get tired of me saying it,” Fennelly said. “This is a unique place, it really is, with unique people, fan base, administration. Any time Iowa State is on a national stage like this, in the biggest sporting event in the world in my mind, and both teams are doing what they’re doing, that’s advertising that would be really expensive to buy, I would guess. It’s amazing.”
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.