Iowa State's Bill Fennelly on women's NCAA tournament chances: 'I think we've earned that'

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AMES — The Iowa State women’s basketball team could do nothing but sit and wait.

Iowa State won six of its last seven games to end the regular season, but was eliminated in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals by Kansas State. At that point, any control of an NCAA tournament berth was out of its hands.

“I would think our chances are good,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said at the podium in Oklahoma City. “I’m not one that politics a lot for that stuff. Our kids have played really hard.

“We’ve had some huge wins, obviously the win at Texas late. No really bad losses. I think if you compare us to other teams, I think we’ve earned that but, again, that’s a choice someone else will make.”

Iowa State (18-12) entered the conference tournament as one of the last four teams in the NCAA tournament field, according to ESPN women’s basketball bracketologist Charlie Creme. The NCAA tournament selection show will begin Monday at 6 p.m. (ESPN).

As of Sunday, ESPN lists the Cyclones as one of the last four teams in — ahead of Virginia and George Washington — as a No. 10 seed. Despite a one-and-done appearance at the Big 12 tournament, the five-game winning streak to end the season was enough to push the Cyclones into the 64-team field.

“I think everybody could point to the fact that winning at Texas right near the end of the regular season to me that elevated them in,” Creme said on a teleconference. “I kind of had them on the outside looking in until that game, but there was, it was so hard to find any teams kind of, if you want to call it the bubble, that were struggling to elevate themselves.

“And then when someone did, like an Iowa State beating a Texas, on the road, that was enough to make that leap.”

Along with a win at Texas, a top-10 team at the time, Iowa State has beat Kansas State at home, a top-25 Drake team at home and swept West Virginia, which won the Big 12 tournament. The knock against the Cyclones is a 1-6 start in Big 12 play when they had several fourth-quarter leads.

But what is keeping Iowa State in the field is playing well at the right time, long-time Georgia women’s basketball coach Andy Landers said.

“I hear people from time to time when they’re commentating or doing color on games or on television or talking about different teams, talk about teams play, how they play defense and typically refer often times to them playing a matchup zone and that’s just not true,” Landers said on a teleconference. “There’s only a handful of teams who really play a matchup zone. And Iowa State is one of them.”

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