Freshman Audie Crooks scores 40 points in No. 7 seed Iowa State's win over 10th seed Maryland in the NCAA first round.

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Audie Crooks grabbed the Iowa State nameplate and placed it emphatically on the big NCAA Tournament bracket board, in the space reserved for the second round.

I definitely got the opportunity to do that.

“That was a lot of fun, with my teammates dunking me in the water,” she said, still smiling from ear to ear about 30 minutes later. “I'm so excited to be able to play another game with these girls, with this group. This is a special team and I didn't want it to end.”

The freshman star scored a career-high 40 points on 18-for-20 shooting in her NCAA Tournament debut, and No. 7 seed Iowa State made all of the big shots in the second half to rally from 20 points down and take on No. 10. -Seeded Maryland 93-86 on Friday night.

Crooks joins Bill Walton as the only players in NCAA Tournament history to score 40 points on at least 90% shooting after Walton did so for UCLA in the 1973 title game, according to OptaSTATS.

The 20-point comeback was the second-largest ever in an NCAA Tournament game trailing only Texas A&M, which overcame a 21-point deficit to beat Penn in 2017.

“I thought it was one of the most fun games I've ever been a part of,” Iowa State coach Bill Finley said, praising his team's ability to respond. “Very proud of our team, very happy for them.”

Fighting back tears, Crooks shared how she takes a moment before every game to be spiritual, pray and remember her father, Jimmy, who died when she was 16 in 2021. She committed to Iowa State shortly after that, and Finley even went to her favorite Mexican restaurant. Restaurant food during the hiring process, which is not his favorite food.

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“I'm so grateful, and I can't say thank you enough to the people I surround myself with,” Crooks said. “When you're surrounded by people that you love, that care about you, that trust you as far as getting the ball, it speaks volumes about how we play as a unit.”

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 continued to pound the ball inside the ever-reliable Crocs — even when that led to a few late turnovers.

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

“She knocked down 40 of 20 shots, which is pretty eye-catching,” Ryan said as she pointed to her teammate’s stat sheet. “It was a special night for her and for our team. It couldn't happen to a better person. … When we throw it out there, she gets it every time.”

Allie Kubiak sank all five of her shots in the first half and finished with seven from long range en route to a season-best 29 points, and it looked like Maryland might evade the Hurricanes.

Instead, Iowa State (21-11) advances to play Sunday for a spot in the Portland Regional. The Hurricanes will face second-seeded Stanford (29-5) after the Cardinal beat No. 15 Norfolk State 79-50 in Friday's late-game game at Maples Pavilion.

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Kelsey Jones hit a 3-pointer with 3:20 remaining in the third quarter as Iowa State used a 0-0 run to get back into the game and a Crooks 3-point play at the 2:50 mark put the Hurricanes ahead 62-61 before scoring again on the next play.

Kubiak's hot hand from 3-point range pushed Maryland (19-14) to an early lead from the perimeter and the Terrapins had to try to make things difficult for the 6-foot-3 Crooks in the low post when she came up shooting an NCAA-best 58.4% from the floor.

“I would say it's one of the best performances I've ever seen considering the points, the quality, the venue and the event,” Finlay said.

Maryland made nine 3s in the first half, its most in any half this season — and its 11 total 3s was a team-high for the Terrapins.

This was a training meeting between close friends. Fennelly hired now-Terrapins coach Brenda Freese to his first staff in Ames and she stayed with the program from 1995 to 1999. They posed for a photo before the game.

“It's terrible, Brenda is part of my family,” Finley said of his dear friend's beating.

The program had never met before — and the Freeze's team reached its 14th straight NCAA Tournament after surprising Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament before losing to Nebraska.

“We are really disappointed and sad for our fifth-year students that we were not able to put this to rest,” said Freese, whose team has never lost in the first round during her tenure dating back to 2002.

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Maryland hit six quick 3-pointers and made 10 of 13 shots out of the gate to take a 33-20 lead after the first quarter.

The Big Picture

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

Iowa State: Crooks also became the fourth player in Iowa State program history to score 40 points in a game — the performance marked the most points in an NCAA debut in the last 25 years. … The Hurricanes trailed 52-36 at halftime and overcame 17 turnovers with the help of a 36-25 rebounding advantage.


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