KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) -- Helen Darling dominated her point guard battle with Stacy Frese, nailing a jumper with 12 seconds left, as second seed Penn State topped No. 3 Iowa State, 66-65, in a Midwest Region semifinal.
Penn State (29-4) survived as Megan Taylor missed a 15-footer at the buzzer and advanced to a regional final for the first time since 1994. It will face top seed Louisiana Tech on Monday for a Final Four berth.
Maren Walseth hit one free throw with 2:12 left to bring Penn State within 63-62 and Andrea Garner's layup with 91 seconds to play put the Lady Lions ahead by one.
Frese and Garner each missed jumpers and Iowa State had the ball. Sophomore center Angie Welle was fouled in the lane and drilled two free throws with 27 seconds left to put the Cyclones ahead, 65-64.
The Lady Lions turned to Garner for the lead, but she misfired on a baseline jumper. Darling grabbed the offensive rebound and her shot hit the backboard and danced around the rim before dropping.
Iowa State did not call timeout and Frese dribbled upcourt. She drew a double-team and dished to Taylor, who missed a foul-line jumper as time expired.
Darling and Frese were the showcase players as each is up for the inaugural Nancy Lieberman-Cline Award as the nation's premier point guard. Darling finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and six assists while Frese netted just four points on 2-of-7 shooting, handing out six assists.
Walseth scored 14 points and Garner added eight for the Lady Lions, who shot 40 percent (24-of-60) from the floor, including 42 percent (11-of-26) in the second half.
Freshman Lindsey Wilson scored 15 points, Desiree Francis added 14 and Welle 11 for the Cyclones, who shot 43 percent (24-of-56) and made just 7-of-23 3-pointers.
The loss was a disappointing end to a successful season for the Cyclones (27-6). They set a school record for wins and were looking to return to the "Elite Eight" for a second straight season. Iowa State upset Connecticut in last year's regional semifinals before falling to Georgia.