Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State outmatches Winona State


Jacob Rice

Lexi Donarski battles for loose ball in blowout win over Winona State on Nov. 2.

Iowa State was firing on all cylinders in its exhibition game against Winona State Wednesday night. A standout performance from transfer Stephanie Soares led a high-scoring effort in the team’s first appearance on the court.

The preseason matchup was an opportunity for a veteran team to try different lineups and spots for players. In preparation for the regular season, the team worked to gather as much film as possible. 

“We played Ashley (Joens) at point guard; we played Nyamer Diew at point guard. We went big; we went little,” head coach Bill Fennelly said. “The goal was to get a lot of different things on video that we can show them.” 

As the season opener approaches, the Cyclones will have a decisive 104-47 victory under their belt. 

Never in doubt

Right from the start, Iowa State was in full command. The team went on a 17-0 scoring run to open the game and maintained a substantial lead until the final horn. 

“Our kids were so excited,” Fennelly said. “At the shoot-around today, they were bouncing off the walls. They just wanted to play.”

Iowa State broke the 100-point mark, finding success both in the paint and behind the arc. The Cyclones shot 38-76 from the field, including 16 makes from the three-point line. Offense has been a key characteristic of Fennelly teams, and this group is no different.  

Returning veterans Joens and Emily Ryan found success offensively, scoring 22 points combined. But the Cyclones were led by newcomer Stephanie Soares, who scored 26. The starters saw limited playing time, but the offensive production never fell flat.

“I think when you can get everybody in the game and everyone’s scoring, kind of having fun, it’s really fun to see,” Joens said. 

Frontcourt tandem

A strong, physical player in the front court has been a missing piece for Iowa State. After getting outmatched physically against other conference opponents like Texas and Baylor, the Cyclones went looking for a playmaker to command space down low. 

Iowa State found that in Soares. 

She was a two-time NAIA player of the year and made the NAIA All-American team three times during her time at The Master’s University. At Iowa State, Soares looks to continue her dominance. 

She opened up the game with a basket in the paint and continued to draw the attention of Winona State defenders down low. 

Soares was able to score everywhere on the court. She shot 11-16 from the field, including 4-7 from the three-point line when defenders gave her space. 

“The defense was sagging a lot,” Soares said. “It was kind of weird shooting it wide open.”


Improved defense was a priority for Iowa State in the offseason. The effort came to fruition as the Cyclones suffocated Winona State in all four quarters.

Iowa State’s defensive effort held the Warriors under 50 points. The Cyclones were able to impede Winona State’s attack, effectively pressuring the ball carrier and forcing 11 takeaways. When the team got a stop, they were able to move the ball down the court.

“A lot of our defense kind of turns into offense,” Joens said. “Just kind of continuing to keep that tenacity up on defense and use that to drive our offense.”

Soares was a defensive force underneath the basket and the guards locked down the perimeter. The Cyclones often made use of traps and double teams to force the Warriors into uncomfortable positions. 

The lack of a sound defensive presence has cost Iowa State teams in the past. With the ability to find success on both ends of the court, the Cyclones could reach even greater heights.