"It was the biggest shot Mary Fox has hit since the Iowa game," ISU coach Bill Fennelly said of Fox's score, which sent the Hilton crowd into a frenzy as the Cyclones took a 60-56 lead.
Shortly after Medder's drive and Fox's shot, Katie Robinette blocked an Erin Brady shot. A pair of free throws each by Anne O'Neil and Erica Junod and one each from Medders and Fox padded the score as the Cyclones held Saint Joseph's to just one score in the final minute.
" Defensively, we were good and we were active," said Fennelly. "When you have 14,000 fans cheering for you, you play some defense."
No one loomed larger on defense than 5 foot 7 Erica Junod, who led the Cyclones in rebounding with 10. Megan Ronhovde added nine as the Cyclones out-rebounded the taller Hawks by a 41 to 35 margin.
Medders led the Cyclone scoring with 19, followed by Fox's 12 and O'Neil's 11.
Six foot five Irina Krasnoshiok led the Saint Joseph's Hawks with 13, including three 3-pointers. Amra Mehmedic and Stephanie Graff added 10 apiece.
"You couldn't ask for a better 40 minutes of basketball," Saint Joseph's coach Cindy Griffin said. "Those two teams are very talented and it's a shame they can't both keep playing."
Fortunately for the Cyclones, they will keep playing.
By virtue of their victory Thursday night, they will host UNLV in the semi-finals of the WNIT on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
"For those who think the NIT is not a big deal, they need to say it to our players, coaches and the fans who stood in line to buy tickets," an obviously thrilled Fennelly said.
"It was a phenomenal crowd, which helped us through our low points," Fox said. "You feed off the crowd and it gets nuts."
Saint Joseph's Stephanie Graff said that the crowd fired them up to, making them try hard to quiet the raucous gathering by making shots. But it was evident in the last two minutes when the game was on the line that Hilton Magic was in full force.
"Our goal was to hold them to 57, and to score over 60," Fennelly said, as the final score verified the wisdom of his plan. "We practiced harder yesterday than all year and it paid off as our post defense in the last 12 minutes was great."
Iowa State won its eighteenth game on the season Thursday and will now have a chance to shoot for the 20 mark. If they get that, they will also be the Women's NIT champions.
Tickets for Sunday's game against UNLV may be purchased beginning at 9:00 a.m. Friday morning on the internet at www.cyclones.com or by phone at 1-888-ISU-CYCLONE or in person at the ISU ticket office beginning at 12:00 noon.