No. 1 bites the dust
Iowa State's 3-point shooting knocks out UConn 64-58
Posted: Wednesday March 24, 1999 10:03 PM
CINCINNATI (CNN/SI) -- Top-seeded Connecticut narrowly avoided elimination in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Saturday the Huskies became the first No. 1 seed to fall in this year's tournament.
In the school's first Sweet Sixteen appearance, Iowa State upset Connecticut 64-58 and advanced to play Georgia in the Mideast Regional final Monday.
After trailing much of the first half, the Cyclones hit five 3-pointers in the final minutes to secure the victory.
"The win was obviously huge," said Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly. "It's great for the program. We'd never been on ESPN before."
Connecticut, which was 6-0 in regional semifinals, became the first No.1 seed to be eliminated this year.
"You feel like you got kicked in the gut," said coach Geno Auriemma. "It hurts."
Three-point specialist Stacy Frese hit twice from long range in the closing minutes and finished with 16 points, as Iowa State rallied for the upset. Iowa State (25-7) outscored Connecticut 15-5 during a three-minute stretch.
"That's our game. We've been shooting a lot of 3s the whole year. Coach never said stop shooting them," Frese said. "We were just trying to take the best available shots. We weren't hitting them at the beginning of the game. It was a matter of percentages. It was a matter of time before we started hitting."
The Cyclones started hitting just after Connecticut had taken its biggest lead.
"The 3-point shot has really changed the game," said Auriemma, whose team went 1-for-14 from long range in the first half. "If theirs don't go in, we're sitting up here smiling because we've won the game. It's not how many go in, it's when you hit them, and they hit theirs at the worst possible time for us."
Megan Taylor had 13 points for Iowa State, including the basket that put the Cyclones ahead for good, and Angie Welle and Tracy Gahan had 10 apiece.
Connecticut (29-5), which led the nation in scoring average and field goal percentage, was bothered throughout by Iowa State's aggressive defense and shot only 30 percent from the field.
Tamika Williams led Connecticut with 14 points, 12 in the first half. Stacy Hansmeyer added 11.
Iowa State's Desiree Francis hit a jumper at the buzzer as the first half end for a 28-28 tie.
After Iowa State went ahead in the second half, Connecticut rallied when a 3-pointer by Amy Duran and four successive free throws by Hansmeyer shook the Huskies out of their doldrums.
But Iowa State continued its pesky defense, then got hot with its outside shooting.
"I think, at that point, we realized that we weren't playing our best," Frese said. "We weren't hitting our 3s like we had been all season. Coach said just keep shooting."
Successive 3-pointers by Monica Huelman, Gahan, Frese, Taylor and Frese again gave the Cyclones a four-point lead with 2:22 to play, and Connecticut was unable to come back as it did in the final seconds against Xavier to reach the final 16 for the seventh time.
"Once we hit one, everybody relaxed, and we hit a couple in transition, which is where we get most of them," Fennelly said. "I told them to keep shooting them if they were open. That's Iowa State basketball."
The closest the Huskies came in the closing minutes was 61-58 on a 3-pointer by Marci Glenney with 40 seconds remaining. Iowa State closed out the scoring with one free throw each by Welle, Gahan and Frese.
Iowa State held Shea Ralph, the Huskies' leading scorer with a 17.2 average, to five points.
'I had some wide-open shots," Shea said. "I don't know what to tell you. I didn't hit them. They were wide-open."
She was 2-of-12 from the field, including 0-for-9 from long range.
"We were becoming more confident but they made some good plays and we didn't capitalize on the plays we had to make," Shea said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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