Three Big Takeaways: The Cyclones tame the Lions, offense roars


Daniel Jacobi II

Ashley Joens jumps for a layup in the game against Columbia University on Nov. 20, 2022.

Christian Royston, Sports Reporter

AMES — Coming off a close call in Cedar Falls, the Cyclones needed a big win to keep the momentum going through the start of the season.

Back home in Hilton Coliseum, Iowa State had no problems handling Columbia, putting together a 99-76 win. The Lions kept up the offensive pressure, but the Cyclones proved they could take care of business in front of a home crowd.

Efficiency was the name of the game, as every Cyclone helped out in pulling out their fourth win of the season. Ashley Joens led the team in offensive output, proving again why she’s one of the best at what she does.

Joens puts on a show

Joens continued to add to her impressive resume, leading the Cyclones to a comfortable win over Columbia.

Joens put up her 50th career double-double earlier in the season, but she didn’t show any signs of slowing down. Her efforts on Sunday saw her put up 33 points and 10 rebounds. Her 52nd career double-double.

From the start, it seemed as though Joens couldn’t miss. In fact, she didn’t miss a single time in the first quarter.

Joens was shooting lights out from three the entire day, putting up four 3-point attempts in the first quarter, making all four.

“Once you knock down a couple shots, you get your confidence,” Joens said. “You start to see the ball go in the hoop a little more. You feel confident in that, and it gives you a little bit of momentum.”

At halftime, she was up to 21 points. 

Joens broke the 30-point mark in the first minute of the final quarter. Her 16th game breaking 30 points.

However, she wasn’t stopping there. Joens buried a shot from beyond the arc to tack on three more points to her impressive total.

With the Cyclones leading by 30 points, Joens job was done. As she went to the bench for the final quarter, she could finally take a break from the constant scoring.

The Iowa State bench erupts in celebration after a three was scored in the game against Columbia University on Nov. 20, 2022. (Daniel Jacobi II)

The whole day, Joens was willing the ball into the net. She finished the day shooting 70 percent from the 3-point line.

That shooting is thanks to the work she’s been putting in at the gym. Shots weren’t falling earlier in the season, but it seems that Joens may be back to her old self.

Being the big baseball fan he is, Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly made a perfect analogy for Joens.

“Paul Goldschmidt goes 0-3, I’d bet money the next game he’s gonna get a hit; that’s [Joens]” Fennelly said.

And hit she did.

Her 33 points capped off an impressive day from everyone on the court and gave her teammates the confidence to put shots up. When Joens makes the rim look bigger than it is, balls go through the net much easier.

Ryan does it all

On a day showered in offensive dominance, Emily Ryan proved to be a true facilitator of the offense.

Ryan finished the game with 13 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. Nearly a triple-double. But that’s OK, Ryan was fine letting her teammates shine.

“She’s coaching it while she’s playing; she’s coaching it while she’s on the bench,” Fennelly said. “She’s a great teammate.”

Ryan proved last season that her effort mattered, making a name for herself on defense with her steals and moving the offense with assists. She played to her strengths again on Sunday.

Ryan opened the game in typical fashion, getting her hands on a ball and making a diving effort to complete the steal. She got up as fast as the ball popped out and finished off the fast break with a layup. 

One possession later, she was helping out those around her. Whenever a Cyclone was open, they received a pass from Ryan. Joens started off her dominating offensive performance thanks to an early dish from Ryan.

Late in the third quarter, Ryan was just a few stats off her triple-double. She needed 1 point, a couple assists and a handful of rebounds.

Driving to the rim, she checked off one item on that list. Ryan sank both free throws on a foul to pass the 10-point mark.

Ryan ended her night as good as it started, with two more points. Although she was close to a triple-double, Fennelly knew Ryan’s job had been done.

“Billy was really mad at me, he was like ‘leave her in, she’s gonna get a triple-double,’” Fennelly said. “If she gets it, she gets it. She’s not getting it in a game where we’re up by 30 points. That’s not happening.”

Ryan finished the game without a triple-double, but she was fine with the impressive performance nonetheless.

Winning in the paint

It’s easy to pay no attention to the defensive side of the ball or winning in the margins when the offense produces with ease. With nearly 100 points on the day, why focus on the defense?

Although the Cyclones’ defense dominated down low, Columbia scored with ease from past the arc. The Cyclones ended the game giving up a record 18 3-pointers to Columbia, and a record 42 attempts.

Fennelly and company stand by the idea that defense produces offense, and that proved to be the case. As with every game so far this season, the Cyclones locked down their opponents on defense and made opportunities for the offense to succeed.

As with every game this season, Stephanie Soares used her length to disrupt Columbia players all day. She finished the game with two blocks to go along with her 15 points.

“Obviously [Soares] is an amazingly talented kid, and she’s a really hard kid to guard because of that,” Fennelly said. “But I think the amount of work that that kid is putting in; I’m not going to say she’s working harder than anyone on our team, but it’s on the list.”

That work Soares puts in has been paying off in her young career as a Cyclone. Through the first four games, Soares has been a major contributor to the success of the team.

Her size and strength allow her to make an impact in the paint, whether that’s on defense or offense. If the Cyclones needed a basket, someone would find Soares in the paint for an easy layup.

“Today was a situation where they had no answer,” Fennelly said. “She’s just too big and strong.”

Help from Soares and others in the paint helped the Cyclones erase the need for a win in the 3-point margin. Iowa State beat out Columbia with 42 points in the paint to 12. 

That 30-point difference proved to be a big factor in a game decided by less than 30 points.

Going forward, as the games get tougher, the Cyclones will need to continue to win in the margins. With players like Soares, winning in the margins shouldn’t be too much of an ask.