Chris Brackins made his college debut with 13 points and 10 rebounds and fellow freshman Diante Garrett added 11 points, leading Iowa State to a 58-44 victory over Winston-Salem State tonight.
Rahshon Clark and reserve Cory Johnson each scored 10 points for Iowa State, while Jiri Hubalek just missed a double-double with nine points and 13 rebounds.
Iowa State advanced to Saturday night's championship game of its own Cyclone Challenge and will play Centenary, a 72-69 winner over Lipscomb.
Darrell Wonge scored 12 points and Brian Fisher 11 for Winston-Salem State, which is making the transition to Division I.
Iowa State played without 6-foot-7 guard Wesley Johnson, the top returning scorer from last season. Johnson watched the game in street clothes after spraining his left ankle in practice earlier this week.
The Cyclones got by without him, though Winston-Salem State kept it close for much of the game with 10 3-pointers and scrappy play on the boards. But the Rams shot just 6-for-36 inside the arc and Iowa State finally opened some breathing room with a 10-0 run midway through the second half.
Iowa State was leading 32-31 when Brackins hit a free throw. Moments later, he dunked after a turnover and the Cyclones went on to build a 41-31 lead.
Winston-Salem State drew to 47-42 on Wonge's 3 with 2:52 left but got no closer. Clark scored on a follow shot, then fed Johnson for a layup to make it 51-42, and the Cyclones finished the game with an 11-2 run.
Four of the Winston-Salem State's first six field goals were 3-pointers, and the Rams led 18-16 after Jamal Durham's two free throws with 6:38 left in the half. That was the last time the Cyclones trailed.
Clark's follow shot tied it and started a 10-0 burst that he finished with a highlight-reel dunk. In between, Hubalek sank a free throw and scored inside and Garrett converted a three-point play off a floater.
Then, on a breakaway, Garrett directed the ball to Clark with a one-handed touch pass and Clark finished with a two-handed dunk that made it 26-18 and brought a roar from the crowd.
After Fisher's 3 ended a six-minute scoring drought for the Rams, Iowa State played for the final shot and Garrett got it, going 1-on-1 to hit a driving shot with 2 seconds left for a 28-21 lead.