SPOKANE — Taelor Karr transformed into instant analyst Monday afternoon as Gonzaga discovered its first-round opponent for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
Gonzaga’s senior guard provided teammates with the “first look” at Iowa State, the Bulldogs’ opponent Saturday afternoon, during a draw viewing party at the Herak Club.
Karr played two seasons at Iowa State’s Big 12 rival, Kansas State, before transferring to Gonzaga.
“(Taelor) said they actually recruited her for a while,” said GU junior guard Haiden Palmer, recently crowned Most Valuable Player at the West Coast Conference tournament. “She knows them and played against them. She said it was a good matchup for us.”
“They’re a great team. They have a great coaching staff,” said Karr, the WCC’s MVP. “... They have great skill inside and out, so they’re going to be a tough test.”
The 12th-seeded Bulldogs (27-5), playing in their fifth consecutive NCAA tournament, will meet the fifth-seeded Cyclones (23-8) at 1:15 on GU’s home court at the McCarthey Athletic Center on ESPN2. The winner of that game will face the winner of No. 4 Georgia (25-6) and No. 13 Montana (24-7) at 6:30 on Monday for a berth in the Sweet 16, March 30 at Spokane Arena.
Gonzaga is hoping to duplicate its 2011 tournament, when it won twice at McCarthey and moved on to Sweet 16 play at Spokane Arena. Top-seeded Stanford (31-2), second-seeded California (28-3) and third-seeded Penn State (25-5) are favorites to move past the first two rounds and join the McCarthey survivor at the Arena.
Iowa State is making its seventh consecutive tournament appearance under coach Bill Fennelly, who has a career record of 561-234 in 18 seasons in Ames and seven seasons at Toledo.
Fennelly was awarded a lifetime contract after the 2006-07 season.
“If they were in the West Coast, we would battle with Iowa State for recruits all the time,” Zags coach Kelly Graves said. “We have very similar styles. We like the same kind of players.”
The Cyclones have lost three of their last eight, including a 75-47 loss to top-ranked Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament title game.