Three freshmen get the start in Iowa State’s season debut


Wesley Winterink

Iowa State freshman guard plays defense against Omaha on Nov. 25 at Hilton Coliseum. 

Megan Teske

In the Iowa State women’s basketball season opener, the Cyclones started the season with a win on the book and took down Omaha 69-43.

In the Cyclones’ win, Iowa State started three freshmen after those freshmen didn’t get much practice with game-time situations or any exhibition games.

Nevertheless, albeit a shaky first quarter, all four freshmen played well, combining for 20 total points, 19 rebounds, 11 assists and six blocks.

Associate Head Coach Jodi Steyer, who is taking over head coaching duties while Bill Fennelly is quarantining after being in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, said the freshmen did some really good things at times and overall they had a good approach.

“Everything we talk about when you go out there it’s a little bigger floor, a little better competition, so I think it’s good to get it under their belt,” Steyer said. “… I think a lot of the things we’ve talked about in practice, some of the things we’re looking for or some of the things we need to improve on, now we have game film… it’ll be really good and beneficial for us to see this first game and kind of see where we can go from here.”

Steyer also said that, “Ashley [Joens] obviously was being Ashley,” which helped because she came in the game and led the team in the second quarter with 13 points and calmed the freshmen’s nerves.

Freshman Lexi Donarski started and played the most minutes of the freshmen with 27.

Steyer said the decision to play Donarski for 27 minutes was due to her being so versatile and her ability to ball handle, defend and shoot the ball.

“In practice we play her in four different positions, so her versatility is huge and that’s gonna be something that as we go she’s gonna fill a lot of different spots,” Steyer said. “… we’re expecting big things from her and all of the freshmen.”

Despite Donarski playing the most, other freshmen starters Kylie Feuerbach and Emily Ryan also played valuable minutes, with Feuerbach playing 24 and Ryan playing 23. Donarski said having them start and play along with her, along with freshman Aubrey Joens, who played 17 minutes, was something that helped calm her nerves.

“Our class spends a lot of time together since we’re only allowed to see each other so it was nice having them beside me and playing with them today,” Donarski said.

Donarski posted a stat line of five points, four rebounds and one block, stats that earned her a plus-minus score of 17.

She said something else that helped her throughout the game was the leadership presence from the upperclassmen who would give her words of encouragement throughout the game and advice before the game when she found out she was starting.

Junior guard and forward Ashley Joens was one of those players. Joens also started when she was a freshman, so she knew what the freshmen were going through and what the nerves were like to get that call.

“Well I started as a freshman so before the game I texted them all like ‘this is just a normal game you just have to go out there and play how you know how to play, you can’t really think of it as a big game, every game you play you just have to go out there and play so just kind of relax,’” Ashley Joens said. “I think that kind of helped take some of the pressure off them, especially knowing that there wasn’t 10,000 fans in the building as well.”

In Ryan’s 23 minutes, she had just three points but had her fair share of assists with seven and also grabbed six rebounds, blocked two shots and stole two balls. Ryan also finishes with a plus-17 in the plus-minus column.

Feuerbach had five points, six rebounds, three assists and three blocks in her 24 minutes and Aubrey Joens had seven points, three rebounds and one assist in 17 minutes.

Iowa State’s next game will be against South Dakota State at 2 p.m. Nov. 28 when it travels to Brookings, South Dakota.