AMES, Iowa (Ticker) -- Third-seeded Iowa State used blistering second-half shooting and a raucous crowd to clinch its second straight "Sweet 16" berth, 79-68 over No. 6 Illinois in a second-round Midwest Region battle.
The Cyclones (27-5) increased their school-record win total with their ninth straight victory and will face second seed Penn State on Saturday in the regional semifinals.
The Fighting Illini held a 47-36 lead four minutes into the second half before Iowa State began its charge. They used a 16-4 spurt to gain a 52-51 lead with 12 minutes left for its fourth straight NCAA Tournament home victory.
Lindsey Wilson hit a jumper and a free throw before Angie Welle nailed two free throws to bring the Cyclones within 47-41 with 14:46 left.
Tauja Catchings' jumper gave the Illini an eight-point lead before Iowa State sharpshooter Desiree Francis brought the house down. She drilled three consecutive 3-pointers to put the Cyclones ahead.
Wilson drilled one from beyond the arc with 2:32 left to play as Iowa State took a commanding 74-64 lead. The Cyclones shot 55 percent (16-of-29) and 8-of-15 from 3-point range in the second half for their fifth straight home win.
Illinois shot only 36 percent (9-of-25) in the final 20 minutes and failed to make the regionals for a second straight season. The Illini advanced to the "Sweet 16" in 1997 and 1998.
One game after drawing a first-round record crowd of 13,617, the Iowa State drew 13,478 tonight to Hilton Coliseum.
Welle finished with 19 points to lead five players in double figures with Francis adding 18, including 4-of-8 3-pointers, for the Cyclones. Wilson scored 13 points, Stacy Frese chipped in 12 and Megan Taylor 11.
Iowa State shot 48 percent (29-of-61) overall and 10-of-28 from beyond the arc in the first meeting between these schools since 1988.
Kylie Martin scored 18 points, Allison Curtin added 14 with Catchings and Susan Blauser chipping in 13 apiece for the Illini, who shot 44 percent (25-of-57) and 2-of-13 from 3-point range.