Gonzaga played an inspired game on Saturday.
The Bulldogs played pressure defense, they forced turnovers and they hit the offensive glass with a vengeance.
They just were not able to shake off a cold-shooting day, though, and bowed out of the NCAA women's tournament with a 72-60 loss to Iowa State at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash. It is the first time the Bulldogs have not won an NCAA tournament game since 2007.
It wasn't for lack of good looks at the basket, either. Gonzaga missed open 3-pointers, short jumpers, transition layups and putbacks. The ball just refused to go through the cylinder.
"It was a little bit of everything," senior Taelor Karr said. "We might have got in our own heads, not making as many shots as we normally would.
"In the end, I think it was not hitting shots. I don't know if it was not being as confident as normal or just because it's a big stage. It's just one of those days it didn't go in."
The Bulldogs finished 23 of 71 (32.4 percent) from the floor and despite 15 offensive rebounds, had just 12 second-chance points.
Gonzaga played from behind for most of the game, and never led in the second half, but had one last run in it down the home stretch. With a packed house of mainly Bulldog fans on its feet, Gonzaga went on a 6-0 run to close the gap to 62-57. An inability to knock down open looks continued to plague the Bulldogs, though, and Iowa State sealed the win at the free throw line, hitting its last 10 attempts of the game.
Chelsea Poppens scored 19 points for Iowa State, while Hallie Christofferson and Brynn Williamson added 18 and 17, respectively.
Karr paced the Bulldogs with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Haiden Palmer added 14 points and 10 steals.
Palmer spearheaded an aggressive half-court trap that Gonzaga employed for most of the game, as the Bulldogs tried to disrupt the flow of the Cyclones offense.
"You know, it's one of those trade-offs but we felt going in and game preparation, we were not going to be able to sit back in a softer zone or man‑to‑man and give those inside kids good looks," head coach Kelly Graves said. "And for the most part, hey, Iowa State doesn't get turned over 23 times very often. And we made a lot of those count. We just didn't make enough."
"Their half-court pressure defense, not by surprise, but they really stuck with it," Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said. " We kind of kept thinking they would change defenses more. It was hard for us. We had a hard time getting by that first wave."
Iowa State led 34-31 at halftime after a Williamson 3-pointer put the Cyclones ahead with 23 seconds left. Gonzaga never led or tied the game after Williamson's shot.
Iowa State shot 52.3 percent from the field and hit 17 of 18 free throws, but its bench was outscored 25-0, as the Cyclones used a six-person rotation. But Iowa State got just enough from its starters to end Gonzaga's season.
"You know, we played hard and in the end, we just didn't make enough plays," Graves said. "I thought we had opportunities, but 33 games, we've given up 70 or more points one time, and it was tonight. Our defense was tested and unfortunately we didn't pass the test. "