Iowa State then-sophomore guard Rae Johnson dribbles to the hoop during the first half of the Iowa State vs Baylor women’s basketball game held Feb. 23 in Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones lost 60-73.

Iowa State defeated Texas 75-69 in the semi-finals of the Big 12 Tournament to advance to the championship game against Baylor.

Deja vu

If Sunday's game felt similar to the one that Iowa State and Texas played just eight days ago, join the club.

Just like the previous matchup in Austin, Texas, Iowa State jumped out to a quick double-digit point lead thanks to a hot start from beyond the arc.

The Cyclones hit six threes in the first quarter, good for 18 of their 24 points in the first, and it once again looked early like Iowa State would run the Longhorns out of the building.

Unfortunately for the Cyclones, they once again fell into a cold streak that let the Longhorns slowly climb their way back into the game. The difference this time around, however, is that Iowa State almost didn't get away with it.


Iowa State senior guard Bridget Carleton goes for a two during the second half of the Iowa State vs Baylor women’s basketball game held in Hilton Coliseum Feb. 23. The Lady Bears defeated the Cyclones 60-73 despite a surge from Iowa State in the second half.

Last week, Iowa State's cold shooting was offset by the Longhorns inability to take advantage, due in part to some shooting woes of their own. On Sunday, the Longhorns actually shot the ball better than the Cyclones did percentage-wise, and ended up tying the game in the fourth quarter after Iowa State missed 11 straight threes and started the final quarter 0-7 from the field.

However, the Cyclones were once again able to make shots when it mattered most and pulled away late in the fourth quarter thanks to some clutch points from seniors Bridget Carleton and Alexa Middleton. With the win, the Cyclones will now take on Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament championship game.

Streaky shooting is just part of the game when you're as reliant on jump shooting as Iowa State is, but the Cyclones can ill-afford to go that cold from the field when the NCAA Tournament rolls around.

Texas is talented, but tougher teams await the Cyclones in a few weeks. If they fall into a similar slump during an NCAA Tournament game, they may not get away with it like they did Sunday.

Middleton's career night


Iowa State redshirt senior guard Alexa Middleton shoots a two during the first half of the Iowa State vs Baylor women’s basketball game held in Hilton Coliseum Feb. 23. The Lady Bears defeated the Cyclones 60-73 despite a surge from Iowa State in the second half.

It's pretty much a given at this point that Bridget Carleton is going to get hers. However, for the Cyclones to beat top teams, they need one or two more players to step up alongside Carleton and give them points.

Last week against Texas it was Ashley Joens with 22 points. On Sunday, it was the Alexa Middleton show.

Middleton got her day started by hitting three of the Cyclones six first quarter threes, and she didn't slow down as she finished the game with 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field, including 4-for-6 from downtown.

The 24 points are the most Middleton has scored in her Iowa State career, and the senior also added six assists on the evening.

Middleton will always be a pass-first point guard by nature, which means that we shouldn't expect 20-point games from her to become a regular thing. However, the ability to score for Middleton has always been there, and it's got to be comforting for coach Bill Fennelly to know that he has another senior capable of taking over a game.

Get ready for an NCAA Tournament game in Hilton

Does Hilton Magic transfer over to the postseason?  Well, we'll almost certainly find out now.


Iowa State guard Ashley Joens shoots a three during the fourth quarter of the Iowa State vs Baylor women’s basketball game Feb. 23 in Hilton Coliseum. The Lady Bears defeated the Cyclones 60-73 despite a surge from Iowa State in the second half.

With Sunday's win, the Cyclones have essentially guaranteed themselves the opportunity to host an NCAA Tournament regional. Iowa State was projected to be the No. 14 overall seed by the selection committee when they released their current top 16 seeds on Monday, and the team has gone 3-0 since then. 

They'll likely be 3-1 after Monday's game against Baylor, but it's hard to imagine the committee punishing the Cyclones if they lose to the No. 1 ranked team in the country. 

So, that means four teams, including Iowa State, will play the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament at Hilton Coliseum. That's obviously huge for the Cyclones, as the team went 16-2 at Hilton during the regular season.

Monday's game against Baylor isn't necessarily meaningless — the team certainly wants to dethrone Baylor as champion and send a statement to the rest of the NCAA — but the Cyclones probably got what they wanted most out of their trip to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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