Twice as nice
Cyclones swirl by Sooners for second straight Big 12 title
Updated: Sunday March 11, 2001 5:42 PM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Megan Taylor drew plenty of attention as she broke Iowa State's career scoring record.
Six 3-pointers and 28 points -- both records for the Big 12 Conference tournament title game -- tend to open some eyes.
But it would have been easy to miss the play she made to seal No. 13 Iowa State's second straight tournament championship, because it happened in a flash.
Taylor deflected an inbounds pass off Stacey Dales' leg and out of bounds with less than seven seconds left Saturday night, turning back a late rally by No. 7 Oklahoma in Iowa State's 68-65 victory.
"We figured they'd probably try to throw it to Dales, who was on my side," said Taylor, who has 1,819 career points. "I just put my hand up, and it hit my hand and went off her knee."
Center Angie Welle, the tournament MVP, hit a critical late free throw and added 13 points for the third-seeded Cyclones (25-5).
Iowa State overcame poor early shooting to win the closest championship game in the conference's five-year history. The Cyclones were 1-for-8 in the opening minutes.
That was terrific compared to Oklahoma's early shooting. The top-seeded Sooners (25-5), playing in their first Big 12 final, missed 14 of their first 15 shots and went almost eight minutes without a field goal in the first half.
"Our first time down the court, we didn't run the play I'd called," coach Sherri Coale said. "I knew right then how tightly wound we were.
"I take full blame for that," said Coale, whose team won the regular-season conference championship by two games and had won 17 straight. "As a coach, it's my job to have the team ready. I thought we were ready to play, but I was wrong."
The Sooners rallied in the second half, putting together a 10-0 run -- capped by Sunny Hardeman's 3-pointer with two minutes left -- to cut the Cyclones' lead to 65-63.
Oklahoma trailed 67-65 and had the ball in the closing seconds after Iowa State's Lindsey Wilson missed the front end of a one-and-one with 25.4 seconds to go.
The Sooners retained possession on a held ball with 6.7 seconds left, but lost the ball on Taylor's deflection. Welle hit one free throw after being fouled with 5.1 seconds left, and Hardeman's last-second 3-point try rimmed out.
"I had a feeling that they were going to make a great comeback attempt, and they did," Taylor said. "We were just strong enough to hold on at the end."
Iowa State was aided by a partisan crowd, desperate for a reason to cheer after the top-seeded Cyclones were upset by Baylor on Friday in the quarterfinals of the men's tournament.
"I think our fans were a little angry (about the men's loss), and they got to take some of that anger out today," Welle said. "They're die-hard fans, and it's nice to have all that energy."
Dales and Jamie Talbert led Oklahoma with 14 points each. LaNeishea Caufield added 11.
Erica Haugen scored 11 points for Iowa State, which got 12 rebounds -- 10 in the first half -- from Tracy Gahan.
Taylor, Dales, Wilson and Oklahoma's Rosalind Ross joined Welle on the all-tournament team.
Coale said she didn't expect the loss to hurt Oklahoma when NCAA tournament seedings are announced on Sunday.
"I think it does help remind us of how bad it hurts to lose," Coale said. "We hadn't had that feeling in a long time, and I know they don't want to have it again for a long time."