March Madness

March Madness: Iowa State’s Audi Crooks drops 40, leads Cyclones to 20-point comeback win over Maryland

March Madness: Iowa State’s Audi Crooks drops 40, leads Cyclones to 20-point comeback win over Maryland

Audi Crooks went off on Friday night, and she saved No. 7 Iowa State in the process.

Crooks led the Cyclones back from a 20-point deficit to knock off No. 10 Maryland 93-86 in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, California. The comeback win marked the second-largest comeback in the history of the NCAA women’s tourney.

Texas A&M, which rallied from a 21-point hole in 2017, holds that record. Middle Tennessee rallied from 18 points down earlier on Friday to stun No. 6 Louisville in what was the third-largest comeback in tournament history.

Crooks dropped a career-high 40 points, had 12 rebounds and shot 18 of 20 from the field in the win. She matched Iowa State’s single-game points record for an NCAA tournament game, matched the most points scored by a Big 12 player in a tournament game and set the new school record for field goals made in a tournament game. And, according to ESPN, Crooks is the first player in the past 25 years to drop 40 points while shooting 90% or better from the field.

The freshman simply couldn’t be stopped.

“She dropped 40 on 20 shots. That’s pretty eye-popping right there,” Iowa State guard Emily Ryan said, via Cyclone Fanatic. “It couldn’t have happened to a better person and I’m happy to share the court with her.”

Maryland came flying out of the gate, and took a 13-point lead after dropping 33 points in the first quarter. The Terps pushed that lead to 20 points briefly before entering halftime up 52-36. Allie Kubek dropped 19 of her 29 points in the first half while shooting a perfect 5 of 5 from behind the arc.

Yet Iowa State slowly cut into that lead. Eventually, Kelsey Joens capped a quick 10-0 burst with a 3-pointer to tie the game. Then after finally pushing ahead slightly in the fourth quarter, the Cyclones ended the game on an 11-4 burst to seal the seven-point win.

Kubek led the Terps with 29 points and five rebounds while shooting 7 of 8 from behind the arc. Shyanne Sellers added 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Faith Masonius finished with 14 points. Maryland had won 18 straight opening-round games at the NCAA tournament before Friday’s loss, which was the fifth-longest streak in the country.

Ryan finished with 18 points and had 14 assists to go with Crooks’ 40 piece. Joens added 12 points off the bench, and Hannah Belanger finished with 10 points. The Cyclones shot nearly 57% from the field as a team and still managed to pull off the win despite committing 17 turnovers.

Despite her big night, Crooks was quick to share credit.

With the win, Iowa State will take on No. 2 Stanford in the second round of the tournament on Sunday. The Cardinal rolled past No. 15 Norfolk State 79-50 in their first round game.

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