Iowa State senior Brittany Wilkins tallied a career-high 30 points and 16 rebounds, leading the Cyclones to a 79-71 overtime victory against UW-Green Bay in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament Thursday night in Ames. The senior had 17 points in the second half to keep ISU from squandering an 11-point lead and recover from a four-point deficit with just 40 seconds left in regulation.
"This time of year, the aesthetics of the game don't really matter to me," ISU head coach Bill Fennelly said. "We won the game a number of times, we lost the game a number of times. We made the plays when we had to."
Iowa State (18-12) led by as much as 11 in the second half, but the Cyclones went cold, hitting 2-of-12 from the floor, and the Phoenix made four consecutive 3-pointers to take the lead (56-55) with 4:54 left to go. UWGB (23-7) extended its lead to 63-59 with 2:20 remaining, but Iowa State got a 3-pointer from Wilkins at 14 seconds and both ends of one-and-one free throws from freshman Heather Ezell to tie the game at 66-66 with 2.5 seconds and put the game into overtime.
ISU freshman Nicky Wieben tallied the first four points in the extra period to give ISU a lead it would never relinquish. The Cyclones made 7-of-8 free throws to seal the victory and advance to the second round of the tournament, facing the winner of Friday's Illinois-Marquette game on Monday at 7 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum.
Both teams hit from long range, getting six 3-pointers each in the first half. The Cyclones held a narrow 31-26 edge despite jumping out to an 11-2 lead to start the game. UW-Green Bay hit three consecutive triples to tie the game (11-11) at 12:14 and the teams traded the lead four times before the break.
Iowa State owned a 26-16 rebounding advantage, but 11 turnovers allowed the Phoenix to keep it close. UWGB's Nicole Soulis, who earned 2006 Horizon League Player of the Year Honors, saw just 10 minutes of action in the first half due to foul trouble. She went 0-for-6 in that span.
Junior Megan Ronhovde had 20 points for ISU, her first double-digit scoring performance in the last eight games. Wieben finished with 10 points and career bests of 13 rebounds and seven blocks, her second double-double of the season. Ezell closed out ISU's double-figure scoring with 11 points.
Iowa State shot 40.3 percent from the floor and dominated the backboards 55-37. UW-Green Bay made 31.1 percent of its shots, taking 30 3-point shots with 32.5 percent accuracy. The Phoenix had four players in double figures, led by Natalie Berglin's 18.
Wieben, who needed just four blocked shots to match the ISU single-season record, had that many in the first half. She added three in the second half to give her 55 this year, bettering Angie Welle's 52 blocks in 2002. Medders' eight assists was enough to set the school single-season mark (210), topping Lindsey Wilson's 207 dishes in 2002.