BERKELEY, Calif. — The ugliest souvenir from Iowa State’s Thanksgiving weekend trip to Hawaii still hangs in the locker room, taunting and tormenting the Cyclones every day.
It’s the box score from Iowa State’s 38-point loss to Stanford, and it isn’t pretty. That much-despised sheet of paper is a daily reminder of the lowest point in the Cyclones’ largely outstanding season, which has extended all the way to the Berkeley Regional final — and another meeting with the same Cardinal (32-4) who obliterated them 83-45 in Honolulu, 110 days before Monday’s rematch for a trip to the Final Four. The Cyclones (27-8) know they’re a much better, smarter team now. They also know the Cardinal feel the same way. "We have to have one of the best games we’ve ever played,” said Alison Lacey, the Cyclones’ Australian guard who scored 29 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer to beat Michigan State on Saturday. "Everybody has to be in sync. Everybody has to be able to score. We can’t back up like we did in November. They punched us in the mouth, and we stepped back. We have to show them how tough we are.” Instead of flying high after that impressive comeback win over the Spartans, the Cyclones were well-grounded Sunday, contemplating the unpleasantness of facing post power Jayne Appel and Stanford’s stellar role players surrounding her. The second-seeded Cardinal have won 19 straight while dominating the Pac-10 and moving to the brink of their second straight Final Four trip after last season’s loss to Tennessee in the championship game. "It would be an upset of monumental proportions if we won the game, but that’s the great thing about the NCAA tournament: We’ve only got to beat them once,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said before appealing to Cal sports fans to show up at Haas Pavilion on Monday night to do what they love: cheer against Stanford. With another Final Four just 40 minutes away, the Cardinal are doing their best to forget the ease of that first victory over Iowa State.