Takeaways: Cyclones roll past Bison with intensity and transition scoring

Lexi Donarski shoots the ball against North Dakota State on Dec 12 in Hilton Coliseum. Donarski scored a career high 25 points in a 85-64 win.

Nick Flores

The Iowa State women’s basketball team made big steps in its 21 point win against the North Dakota State Bison, playing efficient on both ends of the floor.

The game ended in 85-64 win for the Cyclones, improving their record to 3-3 as they look to go above .500 in their next game against the University of Northern Iowa.

Donarski’s career high

Freshman guard Lexi Donarski led the way for the Cyclones as she recorded a new career high of 25 points. Donarksi started the game ready to shoot, as she started off 3-3 from three point land and helped the Cyclones get off to an early lead.

Donarski was everywhere in transition. She spotted up from three, got to the basket and even had some mid range buckets to add to the Cyclones’ lead. 

She shot 10-19 on field goals as well as going 2-2 from the free throw line. Donarski was also able to lead the Cyclones to victory with her seven rebounds and three assists. 

“Everyone knows what (Ashley Joens) can do, but I thought Lexi Donarski was outstanding,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said. “I told her after the game ‘Welcome to Division One basketball'”.

Fennelly said that while Donarksi’s aggressive approach on the offensive side showed out in t major way against the Bison, it wasn’t completely unexpected to see.

After all, Fennelly and his staff were begging for Donarksi to shoot some more.

“We have been begging, literally begging for her to shoot the ball more,” Fennelly said.

Having balance alongside Ashley Joens was a key against the Bison for Iowa State and Fennelly said if this can continue, alongside Kristen Scott, Iowa State may be young, but it’s going to be a tough team to stop.

With Donarski’s high scoring performance this game, it is clear that she is a viable scoring option for the Cyclones and it shows the amount of trust the program has continued to put into the freshman.

“I would say I’m happy with the step forward that I took today but we had a great team-game and we were able to put together four good quarters this time so that was really nice,” Donarski said.

Scoring in transition

The Cyclones were able to get a lot of points in transition thanks to their solid defense for all four quarters. 

The Cyclones recorded 24 points off of turnovers alone and that proved to be huge as that prompted them to keep extending their lead during the game. The points in transition came from inside the paint as well as the three point land as they were able to space the floor very well to create open looks.

“It’s not something we do a lot, turn turnovers into points, but I think our perimeter defense is getting better so we’re going to get some deflections, some steals and force some turnovers,” Fennelly said.

Iowa State forced 15 turnovers from the Bison and were able to convert on almost each turnover whether that be a bucket in transition or getting to the free throw line. The Cyclones were able to get to the free throw line on many occasions in transition and they converted 81 percent of them.

Their ability to get to the paint and earn a trip to the free throw line helped the Cyclones immensely as North Dakota was unable to stop the Cyclones in transition.

Setting the tempo early

Iowa State was able to control the tempo of the game in the first quarter after going back and forth for field goals with North Dakota. 

By the end of the first quarter the Cyclones held a nine point lead and that was because of their defense being able to get a lot of stops and break out in transition.

This fast paced basketball from the Cyclones set the tempo for the entire game and the Bison were unable to catch up. The Cyclones came to play with a lot of energy with players such as senior Kristin Scott making multiple hustle plays to keep possession for the team.

Those hustle plays and ability to push the ball in transition helped the Cyclones to play fast and they played that way the entire game. They were pests on the defensive end which didn’t allow North Dakota to get any type of momentum going for themselves. 

When the Cyclones are playing that sort of fast paced style of basketball while being able to contain their opponents when on defense, they are able to dictate the game and play freely. 

The Cyclones will hope to build on this win as they face their next opponent, the University of Northern Iowa, on Tuesday. That game is set to tip-off at 6:30 p.m.