PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Stephanie Soares equaled her season-high with 23 points and added 11 rebounds and six blocks as No. 5 Iowa State rolled past Michigan State 80-49 in the semifinals of the Phil Knight Invitational Thursday night.
Soares, a 6-foot-6 transfer from The Master’s, where she was a two-time NAIA International of the Year, dominated inside, making 10 of 14 shots.
Emily Ryan added 17 points and eight assists, and the Cyclones continued on despite a poor shooting night from top scorer Ashley Joens, the Big 12 preseason player of the year. Joens averaged 25.5 points but only managed eight.
Iowa State (5-0) started the week in the top five of the AP Top 25 for the first time since December 31, 2001, when the program ranked No. 4, its highest in school history. The Cyclones will have a chance to campaign for a higher placement with a top-10 match against North Carolina in Sunday’s championship game.
DeeDee Hagemann led Michigan State (6-1) by 14 points and Kamaria McDaniel added 11. The Spartans played without top scorer Matilda Ekh, who was in her native Sweden on international commitments. The school expects to rejoin the team in time for Sunday’s third-place game. Ekh has an average of 11.2 points.
The Cyclones dominated the first half and took a 37-17 lead at halftime. Michigan State struggled with shooting in the first half, making just 6 shots from 30 and going almost the last seven minutes of the second quarter without a basket. Michigan State missed its first 12 3-point attempts before Stephanie Visscher scored the team’s first in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
State of Iowa: The Cyclones have shown they can be more than just Joens offensively. Nine of the 12 Iowa State players who saw time scored a goal. Joens had led the Cyclones as top scorer in three of four games this season.
Michigan State: The Spartans had shot 49% from the field in their first six games, so poor shooting night was an outlier that could be more of an indication of opponent quality. Not having Ekh was a huge loss with their 18 3-point team leaders in the season.
Iowa State: The Cyclones take on No. 8 North Carolina in Sunday’s championship game.
Michigan State: The Spartans meet No. 18 Oregon in Sunday’s third-place game.
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