2019 NCAA TOURNAMENT

Elle Ruffridge, red-hot Missouri State await Iowa State in NCAA Tournament

2017 Iowa Miss Basketball nets a career-high in upset; Iowa State star Bridget Carleton nears school scoring record

Missouri State sophomore Elle Ruffridge attempts a 3-point shot against DePaul during the fourth quarter of first round game at the NCAA women’s basketball tournament at  Hilton Coliseum on Saturday, March 23, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune)
Missouri State sophomore Elle Ruffridge attempts a 3-point shot against DePaul during the fourth quarter of first round game at the NCAA women’s basketball tournament at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday, March 23, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune)
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AMES — Elle Ruffridge picked a good time for a career night.

The 2017 Iowa Miss Basketball from Pocahontas Area High School returned to her home state as a reserve sophomore guard with the Missouri State women’s basketball team.

Ruffridge and Missouri State are staying a while.

“I love playing in Iowa,” Ruffridge said after she scored a career-high 15 points in an 89-78 victory for the 11th-seeded Lady Bears over No. 6-seed DePaul in a first-round game at the NCAA women’s basketball tournament Saturday at Hilton Coliseum. “It feels so great to be home. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates feeding me the ball and getting me the ball at the right time. It feels unbelievable to be home and in front of this crowd, in front of people that I know. It feels great.”

Ruffridge is the career leader in points (2,951) and 3-point baskets (466) in the history of Iowa high school girls’ basketball. She ended her prep career with back-to-back Class 3A state championships in 2016-17.

Missouri State (24-9) will face No. 3-seed Iowa State (26-8) in a second-round game Monday at 8 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum. After a 1-7 start to its season, Missouri State has won 23 of its last 25 games, including a March 17 win over No. 25 Drake that netted the Lady Bears a Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship.

“It’s very emotional,” Missouri State Coach Kellie Harper said. “I’m so happy for this group, and we knew we’d put ourselves in a really good position going into the tournament with how we’d played. It’ll sink in a little later.”

Carleton closing in

With a team-high 23 points in a first round win over New Mexico State in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament Saturday, Iowa State senior Bridget Carleton has the school record for career points in sight. The reigning Big 12 Player of the Year needs just 39 more points to pass Angie Welle, who scored 2,149 from 1999-2002.

Earlier this season, Carelton set the school record for single-season scoring, which currently stands at 729 points and counting. Her scoring average of 21.4 points per game this season will also be a school record if it stands. Welle averaged 20.5 points per game in 2002.

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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