Cyclones Stun Terrapins: Iowa State Rallies for NCAA Tournament First-Round Win

The Iowa State Cyclones pulled off a remarkable comeback victory on Thursday night, defeating the Maryland Terrapins 93-86 in a thrilling first-round matchup of the NCAA Tournament.

Maryland, the higher seed at No. 10, raced out to a strong start and built a lead as large as 20 points in the second quarter. The Terrapins looked poised to cruise to victory behind a balanced scoring attack.

However, the Cyclones, a No. 7 seed, refused to go down without a fight. Led by the sensational play of senior guard Audi Crooks, Iowa State chipped away at the deficit throughout the second half. Crooks erupted for a career-high 40 points, showcasing his ability to score from all over the court.

With under five minutes remaining, the Cyclones finally overtook Maryland and never relinquished the lead. Clutch free throws down the stretch by Crooks and his teammates sealed the improbable comeback victory for Iowa State.

“We never stopped believing in ourselves,” said Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly after the game. “We knew we had a chance to get back in it if we could just make a run. Our guys showed a lot of heart and resilience tonight.”

Crooks was rightfully named the player of the game for his dominant performance. “It feels great to contribute like that in such a big game,” said Crooks. “My teammates did a fantastic job of getting me open looks, and I was fortunate to knock down some shots.”

The loss marks a disappointing end to the season for Maryland, who had high hopes for a deep tournament run. The Terrapins struggled to contain Crooks in the second half and ultimately couldn’t hold onto their early lead.

Iowa State, meanwhile, advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they will face a tough challenge against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. The Cyclones will be looking to build on this momentum and continue their surprising run in March Madness.

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