AMES, Iowa -- Lexi Donarski scored 20 points and third-seeded Iowa State raced to its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2010 with a 67-44 win over sixth-seeded Georgia on Sunday night.
Emily Ryan had 15 points, nine assists and six rebounds for the Cyclones (28-6), and Ashley Joens added 12 points and grabbed ten rebounds.
“Sometimes in life you earn things, and you get it,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “Well, this group earned it. They got it and it's pretty damn sweet.”
Jenna Staiti led Georgia (21-10) with 16 points and nine rebounds. The Bulldogs shot 30.6% from the floor and never had a lead.
“Georgia is a really talented team and so it all started with defense,” Donarski said. “We had to set the tone, especially defensively really early, and that just pushed us forward on offense."
Iowa State opened the game with an 11-0 run, capped by a jumper from Joens. Ryan, who made four of her first five shots, hit consecutive 3-pointers to give the Cyclones a 17-7 advantage. A 3 from Joens pushed the margin to 21-7.
“We knew coming out strong tonight was huge for us, don't let them get any momentum,” Ryan said. “I thought we did a good job of not letting them go on any big runs.”
Georgia shot just 3 of 16 in the first quarter and 8 of 31 in the first half (26%). It also committed eight turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
Iowa State finished with a 45-38 advantage on the boards despite Georgia's height advantage with the 6-foot-4 duo of Staiti and Jillian Hollingshead.
“They did what they do well, and we didn't have an answer for it,” Bulldogs coach Joni Taylor said. “We knew that taking away the 3 was going to be really important and winning the rebound battle was going to be important. We didn't do either one of those things.”
Iowa State will make its sixth Sweet 16 appearance, all under Fennelly. The Cyclones' last Elite Eight appearance came in 2009, when they lost to Stanford 74-53. Iowa State's last Sweet 16 trip in 2010 resulted in a 74-36 loss to No. 1 Connecticut.
Iowa State set a new school mark for wins in a season with their 28th victory Sunday. The Cyclones recorded 27 wins in 1999-00, 2000-01 and 2008-09.
Georgia entered Sunday with a 3-0 all-time record against the Cyclones, with all three games in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs won the last meeting, 65-60, in the second round of the 2013 tourney.
Iowa State advanced to meet Creighton (22-9) in a Sweet 16 matchup on Friday in Greensboro, North Carolina.
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