Takeaways: Iowa State turns shooting around against TCU and picks up third sweep

Lexi Donarski shoots the ball against TCU on Feb. 13 at Hilton Coliseum. Donarski scored a career-high 32 points in Iowa State’s 92-81 win.

Megan Teske

With Iowa State’s 92-81 takedown of TCU on Saturday night, the Cyclones completed their third sweep in conference play this season.

After struggling in its loss to Oklahoma on Tuesday, Iowa State bounced back against the Horned Frogs with a strong shooting performance led by freshman guard Lexi Donarski.

Donarski heats up

Donarski was one of the Cyclones who struggled against Oklahoma, finishing the game with zero points on 0-5 shooting.

On Saturday night, it was a much different story.

Donarski had a team-high and career-high 32 points on 10-14 shooting including 6-9 from the 3-point line.

Head Coach Bill Fennelly said Donarski was incredible from start to finish and that was as good of a game anyone has played for the Cyclones in a long time.

“I thought Lex was great, and it’s a credit to her and a credit to the toughness that she has, the way she was raised,” Fennelly said. “I mean you’re talking about a kid that might have played the worst game she’s ever played in her life on… Tuesday night and then comes out tonight and just looks like, no one would have thought that kid’s a freshman, I mean she was aggressive, she was in attack mode, her shot selection was great, she did a lot of things to put pressure on the defense and as always she defends.”

Donarski brought in five rebounds for the Cyclones as well.

She said the ball movement was awesome and that Iowa State is always willing to make extra passes, which helped Donarski score and the Cyclones win.

“It felt really good but that’s definitely a team effort,” Donarski said. “We were very unselfish tonight, always willing to make the extra pass to an open kid, so it was a team effort tonight, definitely.”

Fourth-quarter dominance

The Cyclones and Horned Frogs remained close throughout the game, with the Cyclones leading 68-64 heading into the fourth quarter.

However, Iowa State was able to pull away from TCU in the final quarter and win by 11 due to defense, according to Fennelly.

“I think the biggest thing is we actually probably played four or five minutes of really solid defense, but we were having a hard time, Lauren Heard is so good, we tried a lot of different things to guard her,” Fennelly said. “And I thought there was about a four-minute stretch early in the fourth quarter we go from up four to up 16 and I think one plays off the other… you get consecutive stops, consecutive scores, it seems like the lead went from four to 10 fairly quickly.”

Iowa State outscored TCU 24-17 in the final quarter to give the Cyclones the 92-81 win in the end.

After remaining scoreless in the first half, junior guard Ashley Joens scored 22 points in the game, 12 of which came in the final quarter.

Joens said the difference between the two halves for her was just getting into the flow of the game.

“They were in a little bit of a different defense so just kind of adjusting to that and getting into the flow of the game for sure,” Joens said.

Scoring back on track

After an abysmal shooting night against Oklahoma where the Cyclones shot 38.1 percent from the field, 25.7 percent from the 3-point line and 4-10 from the free-throw line, Iowa State’s game against TCU was much improved.

The Cyclones closed the night shooting 50 percent from the field, 45.5 percent from beyond the arc and 19-20 from the free-throw line.

Fennelly was pleased to see the improvement from his team, but also said that is the nature of the team.

“That’s the nature of our team,” Fennelly said. “The other night we play Oklahoma we don’t turn the ball over one time in the first quarter, we go three for 20 and tonight, we made almost everything we looked at.”

Fennelly said some of that is how the game is and some of that is how you prepare both mentally and physically.

He added that when Iowa State is making shots and sharing the ball the way they did, they are a tough team to defend.

Joens said it was good for the team to get their confidence in their shots back after they struggled in the Oklahoma game.

“After a game like Oklahoma when we struggled to shoot, getting our confidence back, kind of knocking down those shots, free throws are always important…,” Joens said. “Just really important to make those and then good to get our confidence in our shots back.”

The Cyclones will next play Kansas for the first time this season at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Lawrence, Kansas. The game will be available to watch on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.