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Rookie Crooks rallies No. 7 Iowa State past No. 10 Maryland in NCAA first round

Iowa State Audi Crooks - The Canadian Press

STANFORD, Calif. -- — Freshman Audi Crooks scored a career-high 40 points on 18-for-20 shooting in her sensational NCAA Tournament debut, and No. 7-seed Iowa State hit all the big shots in the second half to rally from 20 points down and beat 10th-seeded Maryland 93-86 on Friday night.

The 20-point comeback marked the second-largest all-time in an NCAA Tournament game trailing only Texas A&M overcoming a 21-point deficit to beat Penn in 2017.

Emily Ryan knocked down a key 3-pointer with 6:06 remaining and finished with 18 points while dishing out 14 assists as Iowa State kept pounding the ball inside to the ever-reliable Crooks — even when it led to a handful of late turnovers.

Crooks, the program’s first freshman to earn AP All-America honors with her honorable mention selection this week, came in leading the team averaging 18.9 points and 7.7 rebounds and became the 16th player to score 40 or more this season. She had 12 rebounds against Maryland.

Allie Kubek knocked down all five of her 3-pointers in the first half and finished with seven from long range on the way to a season-best 29 points, and it looked like Maryland might run away from the Cyclones.

Instead, it's Iowa State (21-11) advancing to play Sunday for a spot in the Portland Regional, its opponent to be either No. 2 seed Stanford or 15th-seeded Norfolk State with those teams playing Friday’s late game at Maples Pavilion.

Kelsey Joens hit a tying 3-pointer with 3:20 left in the third quarter as Iowa State used a 10-0 run to get back in the game and Crooks’ three-point play at the 2:50 mark put the Cyclones ahead 62-61 before she scored again the next time down.

Kubek's hot hand from 3-point range got Maryland (19-14) going early from the perimeter and the Terrapins had to make things tough on 6-foot-3 Iowa State freshman star Crooks in the low post as she came in shooting an NCAA-best 58.4% from the floor.

Maryland made nine 3s in the first half, its most in any half this season — and the 11 total 3s were the Terrapins' high.

This was a coaching reunion between close friends. Longtime Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly hired now-Terrapins coach Brenda Frese on his first staff in Ames and she stayed with the program from 1995-99. They posed for a photo before the game.

The programs had never met previously — and Frese's team reached its 14th straight NCAA Tournament after an upset of Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament before losing to Nebraska.

Maryland hit six quick 3s and 10 of 13 shots out of the gate for a 33-20 lead after the opening quarter.


Maryland: The Terrapins shot 70.6% in the first period making 6 of 7 3s and the 33 points were their most in any quarter of an NCAA Tournament game. They also kept possessions alive with hustle plays and by crashing the boards to create second chances. ... During the time Frese coached under Fennelly, Iowa State reached three NCAA Tournaments and the Elite Eight in 1999. Frese's sister, Stacy, played for Fennelly from 1997-2000.

Iowa State: Crooks also became just the fourth player in Iowa State program history to score 40 points in a game — and marked the most points in an NCAA debut in the last 25 years. ... The Cyclones trailed 52-36 and overcame 17 turnovers, helped by a 36-25 rebounding advantage.