By Wendell Barnhouse | email@example.com
DALLAS - When Iowa State plays the way Bill Fennelly prefers they are as relentless and unstoppable as the passage of time.
In the first four minutes of Saturday's quarterfinal game of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship, the Cyclones were a zephyr. They committed five turnovers on their first six possessions and trailed Kansas 8-2.
From there, it was relentless and unstoppable.
No. 2 seed Iowa State advanced to Sunday's semifinals with a convincing 77-62 victory over the seventh-seeded Jayhawks. The Cyclones are seeking to reach the title game for the first time since.
"I think the first four minutes, we were really nervous," Fennelly said.
Iowa State snapped out of its sleepy start thanks to senior Chelsea Poppens. She scored the Cyclones' first six points with two of the baskets coming on aggressive drives to the rim from the free throw line.
"Once we hit one shot, everybody just spread their energy around and got that confidence that they see the ball going in the basket," said Hallie Christofferson.
She said it and she did it. Christofferson scored 16 straight points for the Cyclones as they exerted their will and built a 22-14 lead. She made consecutive 3-pointers in transition, both times in front of the Kansas bench. After the second, she smiled and pointed to Nikki Moody, who had the assist.
"I knew as soon as one of us started making shots, the rest would follow," said Poppens, who finished with 24 points (on 10-of-13 shooting) and 14 rebounds. "We have a tremendous amount of trust in each other, and just to get the ball rolling and everything started to click, and it all fell together."
Nothing fell for the Jayhawks when they got close to the rim. In the first half, they were 11-of-32 from the floor and at least 10 of those misses came from point-blank range.
"We didn't finish at the rim," Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "We thought we competed and played hard and showed some toughness, just not enough."
Following Christofferson's run, Iowa State freshman Nicole Blaskowsky followed with her own 8-0 run, making two 3-pointers. That pushed the Cyclones' lead to 30-18 late in the first half. The Jayhawks were never able to mount a meaningful rally in the second half.
Kansas was 8-10 in the Big 12, the No. 1 conference in RPI, and is 18-13 overall. Like last year, it will be a suspenseful Selection Monday for KU when the NCAA Tournament bracket is announced. In 2012, the Jayhawks were one of the last at-large teams selected and then made it to the Sweet 16.
"We don't know," said Kansas senior Carolyn Davis, who missed last season's NCAA Tournament run with a knee injury. "We think we've had some great wins, and we are kind of in the same position we were last year, we'll just have to wait and see."
DALLAS (AP) - Chelsea Poppens had 24 points and 14 rebounds and Hallie Christofferson added 23 points as Iowa State defeated Kansas 77-62 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament on Saturday night.
Anna Prins scored 14 points for the second-seeded Cyclones (22-7), who play the winner of the later game between No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 6 West Virginia in Sunday's semifinals.
Carolyn Davis had 17 points and Angel Goodrich 15 for the No. 7-seeded Jayhawks (18-13).
Iowa State led 34-26 at the break and used a 26-13 run over a 7:58 stretch of the second half to take permanent control. Prins culminated the surge with a 3-pointer that made the score 71-49 with 6:05 remaining.