Stuve: Ashley Joens is quickly making her case for best player in program history

Iowa State guard/forward Ashley Joens reads the court against the Texas Southern women’s basketball team at their game Nov. 7 at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones won 79-59.

Sam Stuve

With almost the entirety of her sophomore year almost completed, Iowa State’s sophomore Ashley Joens has quickly become the best player not only on Iowa State’s, but also in the Big 12.

Her impact on the court has put Iowa State in position to make the NCAA tournament this season.

She leads the Cyclones in scoring with 20.5 points per game, which also leads the Big 12 and 11th in the NCAA.

“We all have moments and situations where we want someone who is going to be there when you need and for this team, that’s Ashley Joens,” Iowa State Head Coach Bill Fennelly said.

Since Joens is the Cyclones leading scorer, she automatically appears atop of the opponents scouting reports for each game.

This means that the other team will probably throw everything at her to limit her effectiveness on the offensive end of the floor.

“I’ve asked Ash before, are you willing to accept that you’re going to have to take a tough shot because everyone is going to guard you?” Fennelly said. “Her reaction like ‘okay yeah like that’s my job,’ it’s almost like she’s insulted by me even asking the question.”

A decent amount of Joens’ offense, comes from free throws, she is making six free throws a game and shooting 80.6 from the free-throw line.

Earlier this season, Joens drained 16 free throws against the Texas Southern Tigers on Nov. 19, which broke Chelsea Poppens record of 15 made throws in a game by a Cyclone player.

This performance would not be the only time the Joens has put her name in the Cyclones record book this season.

In that same game, Joens grabbed 20 rebounds, which for the second-most by a Cyclone in a game, along with Angie Welle, who grabbed 20 rebounds against the Missouri Tigers on Jan. 17, 2001.

Joens came three rebounds short of tying the record for most rebounds in a game at 23, which was set by Tonya Burns, who set the record on March 3, 1984, against the Colorado Buffaloes and Welle, who grabbed 23 rebounds against Colorado on Feb. 9, 2002.

Lastly, Joens has also put her name on the leaderboard for most free throws made in a game.

Against the Wright State Raiders, Joens scored 41 points, a career-high for her and came one point shy of tying Burns’ record 42 points in a game by a Cyclones on Jan. 18, 1984, against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Getting to the free-throw line and making free throws is something that Joens has done well all year long.

She is leading the Big 12 in free throws made with 187, which is also third in the NCAA.

“If you said to me that Ashley Joens had to shoot two free throws to win or lose every game, I’m in,” Fennelly said. “She wants to be there and she accepts the responsibility of ‘if I make it, I’m supposed to, but if I miss it I’ll do it again,’….that is a great skill that is not talked about enough.”

Made free throws by Joens, made the difference in Iowa State’s win over West Virginia on Feb. 29 and the historic upset over Baylor to close the season out. 

“I’m pretty comfortable (at the free-throw line),” Joens said. “Every time I go up and shoot one in the game, I imagine that it’s just like practice, we shoot so many in practice, so you just get so used to it.”

To go along with being the team’s leading scorer, Joens is leading the team with 10.7 rebounds per game, which is also fourth among Big 12 players and 16th in the NCAA.

Her 10.7 rebound per game average would be the second-best single-season rebound average by a Cyclone player, behind Welle’s 11.3 rebounds per game season in 2002.

This season Joens has earned 17 double-doubles, which is second in the Big 12 and tied for 13th in the NCAA.

Joens has statistically been Iowa State’s best player this season and last season, she was one of the best freshman scorers in program history.

Last season, Joens scored 408 points, which is the second-most by a freshman. She finished 52 points behind who set the record in the 1997-1998 season with 460 points.

This season she’s scored 594, which is the most by any sophomore in Iowa State history.

Last season, Joens set the record for three-pointers made in a season with 72. This season, she has made 37.

The top five scorers in program history go as such: Welle with 2,169 points, Carleton with 2,162, Lindsey Wilson with 1,875 points, Taylor with 1,866 points and Jayme Olson with 1,799 points.

Joens is averaging 21.1 points per game, which is the best single-season average by a Cyclone player.

She’s finishing one of the best statistical seasons in program history.

If you combine her freshman and sophomore (projected) scoring totals, you’ll get 977 points. Let’s say Joens averages 21 points per game in her junior and senior year; if she stays, she’ll score 1,260 points.

Combine 977 with 1,260 and you’ll get 2,237 points, which means that she is well on her way to becoming the leading scorer in Iowa State women’s basketball. This number could be even greater if Iowa State makes a deep run in the next couple of NCAA tournaments.

While point total is one big way to gauge how effective a player is on the court but also rebounding is a way to see how dominant a forward can be.

Joens only averaged five rebounds a game last season but has more than double that this season.

She has 289 rebounds this season and that puts her at the sixth-highest single-season rebound total.

In order to figure out how many rebounds she is on pace to finish with, let us do the same calculation that we did for the point total.

If we do that calculation, we get 1,139 rebounds, which would give her the second-highest career rebounds behind Welle’s total of 1,209.

Now obviously, Joens could improve her averages in the next couple of games and the next two seasons, but these numbers were calculated based on previous totals and current averages.

So what that being said, Joens is on pace to be one of the best players. Statistically, that has ever worn an Iowa State uniform.

Fennelly knows how productive she is statistically, but is more concerned with how she can lead the team to victory.

“The thing about Alison Lacey, Bridget [Carleton], Stacy Frese, Angie Welle and so many other players, I don’t want to leave out anyone, is that there are number, skills and stats, but what are you doing to impact the success of the team?” Fennelly said. “Bridget was the player of the year last year because she was the best player in the league and our team won games. Ashley has to make that next step. When you look at tall the great players, they can put up a lot of great numbers, but the number one number you better put up is W’s. That’s Ashley’s next role, ‘how do I lead and take these other kids with me.’”