In a disjointed schedule, women’s basketball ready for Big 12 play

Iowa State forward Kristen Scott looks for positioning against the Omaha Mavericks at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, on Nov. 25.

Nick Flores

Two games into the 2020-21 season and the Iowa State women’s basketball team is already heading into conference play with a road battle against TCU on Wednesday. 

Iowa State’s last game against South Dakota State University did not go its way, as it fell 76-69 despite a 36-point and 12-rebound effort from junior forward Ashley Joens. 

The Cyclones are now looking to bounce back from that game without Head Coach Bill Fennelly for the second game in a row due to Fennelly being in isolation after being in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

Although the Cyclones are coming off of a loss to the Jackrabbits, Associate Head Coach Jodi Steyer believes the team arguably played better defense in that game than in their season opener. 

“I honestly thought we defended better, believe it or not, in the South Dakota State game even though we lost that game,” Steyer said. “I thought we saw some strides from people who needed to step up defensively and play a little bit more physical.”

The offense for the Cyclones struggled to get back in the game once their initial first quarter lead was lost, but their defense is what kept them in the contest until the final buzzer. 

While there were some struggles offensively to get back into the game for most of the roster, freshman guard Lexi Donarski put up a career-high 13 points in the loss. In addition, Donarski converted her first two 3-pointers as a Cyclone and has looked very confident on the ball, never hesitant to shoot. 

Donarski, along with fellow freshman guards Kylie Feuerbach and Emily Ryan, have started the last two games for the Cyclones and have impressed so far. Experience will certainly be a factor for the Cyclones as they have a packed schedule this season, and Steyer acknowledges that. 

“The experience factor when you have three freshmen in the starting lineup is huge as we go on,” Steyer said. “Just knowing the monstrous schedule we have coming up and just feeling a bit more comfortable on the floor and getting those first game jitters out of the way [is huge].”

With the Cyclones’ first conference game being against TCU, it will certainly be a test for them, given they have had two nonconference games to start the season. Steyer believes this may make things harder for the team now that it’s jumping right into conference play. 

“Well, it does [make things harder] just because you’re jumping up into your conference play,” Steyer said. “But we’ve been talking about it. It’s been a strange season, and we have to adjust to that, so what we’re trying to do is embrace the prep that we need to do and then getting ready to go out there and play.”

Senior guard/forward Madison Wise has found the two nonconference games very beneficial, though, seeing as she is coming back from being out most of the season last year. 

“We know how hard the Big 12 is, so just playing these first two games and getting our first home game in is very good for us,” Wise said. “There’s different styles of play there and it is very intense, so we’re excited to get the Big 12 rolling.”

The game will be available to stream on ESPN+ via Big 12 Now with tipoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.