Takeaways: Iowa State puts Drake away behind another balanced shooting night

Iowa State freshman Emily Ryan goes up for a layup against Drake University on Dec. 22 at Hilton Coliseum.

Megan Teske

In its final game before the holiday break, Iowa State women’s basketball took down Drake University at Hilton Coliseum behind another balanced scoring attack and solid defense and won 85-67.

The Cyclones closed out the before-Christmas schedule with a 6-3 record and went 2-0 in conference play and will look to continue their four-game win streak when they return Jan. 3 at Texas.

Continued balanced scoring

The Iowa State women’s basketball team continued the balanced scoring attack seen in recent games as five players scored in double figures.

Freshman guard Emily Ryan led the team in points with 20, followed by junior guard Ashley Joens who had 17 points. Sophomore guard Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw once again scored 14 points in her second game back in action, and senior forward Kristin Scott and freshman guard Aubrey Joens both recorded 13 points.

Head Coach Bill Fennelly said how important it is to have a balanced scoring attack, and when you can get three players in double figures, the team is hard to guard.

“Kristin [Scott] and Ash(ley) [Joens] are doing Kristin and Ash things, but when you get that kind of balance from someone, it’s not gonna be seven or eight people every night,” Fennelly said. “… when you can get three of the other five… that balances our team out and I thought that was great.”

Ryan, who had a double-double Tuesday night, recorded a career high in both assists and points. She had 10 assists to go along with her 20 points.

Ryan said her teammates and coaching staff putting her in a position to be successful helped her have such a good game Tuesday and her confidence went up after the game.

“After any good game your confidence level is gonna be high but I think being able to keep your confidence up even when things aren’t going well is really important so I’m going to try to keep this confidence throughout the whole season,” Ryan said.

Ashley Joens didn’t score until late in the first quarter, but that didn’t negatively affect the game at all.

Joens said when someone steps up and knocks down shots and plays together as a team it’s great to see because people get in the flow of the game and get their confidence up.

3-point shooting

For much of the game, the Cyclones drained almost any 3-pointer they shot.

The Cyclones shot 6-7 from beyond the arc in the first quarter, 5-9 in the second quarter and 6-9 in the third quarter, until they went cold in the fourth quarter on shooting.

Iowa State was 0-8 in 3-point shooting in the final quarter Tuesday night.

Ryan said sometimes shots don’t go in and it’s part of the game, but also that the team lost a lot of energy.

“[It’s] something we can’t get in a habit of,” Ryan said. “We gotta be able to finish each game strong and win each quarter so that’s something we’re gonna really focus on.”

The 17 threes also came close to tying the Iowa State women’s basketball record for 3-pointers in a game, which currently sits at 18.

Fennelly said they have a lot of kids that can make shots, so it has been hard to understand why the Cyclones haven’t been shooting well until lately.

“Shooting is contagious,” Fennelly said. “Certainly tonight we shared the ball, had some great looks at it and made a lot of them tonight.”

Solid defense

Against a team that has been averaging about 80 points per game, the Cyclones were able to hold the Bulldogs to 67 points Tuesday night.

Drake had a total of 16 turnovers in the game, which Iowa State turned into 17 points. Iowa State also had six steals and five blocks during the game, and the Cyclones won the rebounding game, out-rebounding the Bulldogs 44-39.

Ashley Joens said the team stuck to the scouting report and executed what they went over in practice in the game on defense, which in turn also helped the Cyclones on offense.

Fennelly said Iowa State has willing defenders and is smarter than they were at the beginning of the year, which is big.

“We’re not gonna wow people with our defense because we don’t turn you over but I think we’re smarter than we were at the beginning of the year, our attention to detail is better, our young kids… are willing defenders, which is great for a freshman, and you know you’re going to get that from Kristin and Ash and Madi Wise, so that was big,” Fennelly said. “…When people look at that and go ‘Drake only had 42 points after three quarters,’ that says a lot.”

Iowa State will return to action in the new year at 2 p.m. on Jan. 3, 2021, at Texas. The game will be available to watch via ESPN2.