Takeaways: Donarski steps up for Cyclones in another close win

Iowa State women’s basketball Head Coach Bill Fennelly coaches from the bench Feb. 6. 

Nick Flores

Iowa State women’s basketball earned a close 84-82 win over the Kansas Jayhawks on Wednesday, improving the team’s record to 14-8 (10-5 Big 12) with only three games remaining in the regular season. 

In the win against the Jayhawks, the Cyclones were able to get to the free-throw line at will as they drew a lot of contact while going to the paint. In addition, Lexi Donarski had another big game, which helped the team come away with the win. 

Getting to the line

In the first half Wednesday, the Cyclones had a tough time gaining any momentum on offense. The shooting efficiency wasn’t there in the first quarter, with the team shooting 5-16 from the field.

The Cyclones also had 10 first-half turnovers, which didn’t help their momentum. 

Iowa State Head Coach Bill Fennelly mentioned the details of the poor first half after the close win in Allen Fieldhouse but was happy to see his team respond.

“The first half was not good at all,” Fennelly said. “And it wasn’t that they were stealing the ball, we got called for traveling six times and a double dribble once. Fundamentally, we weren’t doing the things that we should be doing. We got 10 turnovers at halftime, and you’re sitting there going, ‘OK, what do we do?’ and we ended the game with 12, which is a great number, especially considering 10 of them were in the first half.” 

Despite the turnover and shooting struggles, the Cyclones were able to draw contact in the lane and get to the free-throw line with ease. The Cyclones shot 23-24 at the line, which tied for a season-high against Big 12 opponents.

Fennelly felt the importance of getting to the free-throw line and saw a lot of activity from Donarski and Ashley Joens.

“[Donarski] and [Joens] are really hard to keep off the free-throw line,” Fennelly said. “When they doubled us, [Joens] made some great decisions to get rid of the ball, then you got [Donarski] driving it and drawing contact. … [Joens] works the lane really well, and in those two situations, we get 21 free throws out of two kids, and I thought they were both really good creating contact when we were struggling to shoot it.”

Donarski on a roll 

Over the course of her last two games, Donarski has scored a combined 52 points including a career high in the win against TCU on Saturday. 

Donarski has always been a valued scorer for the Cyclones since the beginning of the season, but it seems she’s been given more of the green light to shoot and take over when need be. 

The freshman guard scored 20 points against Kansas and was crucial in the win. 

Fennelly was not surprised to see Donarski score in big games like Wednesday and Saturday, as he’s given the freshman the green light to shoot. 

“She’s improved a lot because I think she’s looking to score,” Fennelly said. “… I told her from day one: ‘You need to celebrate the fact that you’re a freshman and we’re begging you to shoot.’ Sometimes when you’re talented, you look at it and think, ‘I have three things I can do here rather than just pick one and go with it,’ and I think now she’s picking the right situation, and I thought tonight she was really good.” 

The Cyclones will look to improve their win streak to three games when they face off against Oklahoma State on Saturday. The game will tip off at 1 p.m. as the Cyclones look to defeat the Cowgirls for the second time this season.