Iowa St pulls away late to beat WSU 67-56 for spot in Sweet 16

Mar 23, 2024, 5:54 PM | Updated: 6:03 pm

WSU Cougars Iowa State NCAA Tournament...

Hason Ward of the Iowa State Cyclones reacts during their NCAA Tournament win over the WSU Cougars. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Tamin Lipsey scored 15 points, Iowa State cranked up the second-half pressure against WSU, and the No. 2 seed Cyclones marched into their seventh Sweet 16 with a 67-56 victory over the seventh-seeded Cougars in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night.

Iowa State Cyclones 67, WSU Cougars 56: Box score

Curtis Jones added 14 points and Keshon Gilbert and Milan Momcilovic had 10 apiece for the Cyclones (29-7), who made it to the second weekend of the tourney for the second time in three years. They will play third-seeded Illinois or No. 11 seed Duquesne in the East Region semifinals on Thursday night at TD Garden in Boston.

Jaylen Wells scored 20 points and Myles Rice had 13 for the Cougars (25-10), who were sent back to the Palouse still searching for their first Sweet 16 appearance since Tony Bennett was on the sideline in 2008.

Iowa State spent most of the first half in shambles thanks to what current Cougars coach Kyle Smith calls “the shawmbles,” a suffocating style of defense named for associated head coach and defensive whiz Jim Shaw. The Cougars aggressively jumped passing lanes, harried the Cyclones’ shooters on the perimeter and crashed the boards with abandon.

While Iowa State was busy missing 14 of its first 17 shots, Wells was going 7 of 12 in the first half for 16 points, proving the March Madness stage was not too big for a kid playing Division II ball at Sonoma State a year ago.

The Cyclones finally got going by going downhill. Lipsey and Gilbert attacked the rim, getting layups or drawing fouls, and slowly they crawled back into the game. By the time Hason Ward scored on an alley-oop lay-in in the closing seconds of the half, the Big 12 tourney champs had forged a 27-all tie with the regular-season Pac-12 runner-ups.

Washington State had handled Iowa State’s defense in the first half, turning the ball over just five times. But as the game pressed on, and the Cyclones pulled ahead, the Cougars suddenly began throwing the ball into the first row of seats.

Iowa State led 51-46 with 7 1/2 minutes left when Lipsey drilled a contested 3-pointer. Isaac Jones turned it over at the other end, and Tre King added another basket to make it a 10-point game. And a few minutes later, Rice sent a pass skipping into the backcourt, and a bucket by Curtis Jones pushed the Cyclones’ lead to 59-48 with 3 1/2 minutes to go.

By that point, desperation had set in for the Cougars, and Iowa State was coasting toward the Sweet 16.


Iowa State has not played Illinois since the Maui Invitational in 2018, when the Cyclones won in a rout. Iowa State also won in 2015 in the Emerald Coast Classic in Florida, but before that, the Fighting Illini had won 10 straight in the series. Iowa State has never played Duquesne.

WSU star Isaac Jones went from loading trucks to playing for Sweet 16 spot


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Iowa St pulls away late to beat WSU 67-56 for spot in Sweet 16