Three Big Takeaways: The big four show off in Big 12 opener


Jacob Rice

Stephanie Soares shoots for two at the CyHawk 2022 women’s basketball game. Dec. 7, 2022.

Christian Royston, Sports Reporter

The Cyclones opened up the Big 12 season with a dominant 81-58 win over Texas Tech.

Iowa State couldn’t ask for a better showing from its starting lineup, as four players combined for 72 points, enough to comfortably beat Texas Tech by themselves. It seemed as though every player filled the stat sheet as the Cyclones cruised to an undefeated start to the conference season.

Iowa State also showed great growth, closing out the game by shutting down a Texas Tech comeback, making up for the only two losses of the season, which also came from comebacks. When it came down to it, the game was all Iowa State from the jump.

The Joens show

As the game tipped off, Stephanie Soares did what she does best and secured the ball for Iowa State to take the first possession.

As Big 12 play officially started, who else but Ashley Joens would get the scoring started for the Cyclones. Joens got her first 2 points of the night on the layup, and the points kept coming for the Iowa State star.

By the first media timeout, Joens had 7 of the Cyclones’ first 9 points to hold a small lead over Texas Tech. By the end of the first quarter, she was up to 9 points, with three rebounds as well. 

Although Joens was a key piece in keeping the Cyclones in the game early on, fouls forced her to cool off. She picked up two fouls in the first quarter, causing her minutes to be limited, so she could be available later on if needed.

Even though Joens sat on the bench for the majority of the second quarter, she still ended the first half leading the Cyclones in points. However, as the second half rolled around, Joens would get more chances to score.

Joens started the second half the same way as the first. A quick layup on a fast break gave her two more points to her total.

As the final quarter rolled around, Joens was shooting 5-6 from the field, making the most of her limited minutes from foul trouble.

With Texas Tech within 7 points of the Cyclones halfway into the second quarter, Joens took charge. Joens powered her way to the rim and put up a contested shot.

Joens was fouled on the shot as it fell through the net, giving her a chance for a 3-point play. The momentum shifted even more away from Texas Tech as Joens was thrown to the floor by Texas Tech’s Bre’Amber Scott, causing a technical foul to be awarded.

Because of that foul, Joens went to the line to shoot three free throws, one from the first foul and two from the second. As the final free throw fell through the net, Joens completed a 5-point play, extending Iowa State’s lead.

That play completely flipped the momentum in Iowa State’s favor as they closed out the game in dominant fashion. Joens finished the game with a wide-open three to bring her total to 22 points, along with seven rebounds.

Soares ropes in the Red Raiders

In a game that was dominated early on by strong defenses, no one was better in the post than Soares.

Soares used her large frame to act as a wall against Texas Tech’s offense, disrupting the Red Raiders at every turn. Scoring in the paint became troublesome with Soares in the game.

By the end of the first quarter, Soares was up to seven rebounds and two blocks. Just two minutes into the second quarter, Soares had already eclipsed the 10-rebound mark.

To keep up with Texas Tech’s early dominance in the turnover game, those rebounds became a necessity for Iowa State. Not only that, with the early shooting struggles of the Cyclones, Soares was under the net for a sure score whenever they needed points to keep up with Texas Tech. 

Soares looked like a double-double machine early in the season, as she secured five in the last six games. Just halfway into the second quarter, she was two points away from yet another.

That double-double wouldn’t come until later, as Soares hit an off-balance layup in the third quarter to pick up her 10th point. With Texas Tech looking for a comeback in the final quarter, it was more important than ever for Soares to continue to dominate the rim.

She did just that, as Lexi Donarski found her under the rim on a lob pass to get the Cyclones on the board early in the fourth quarter.

Soares finished the game with a season-high 16 rebounds while scoring 14 points and getting four blocks.

Everyone chips in

Although it’s easy to attribute the dominant win to one or two players, Iowa State’s stars all got a piece of the action.

Joens led in scoring for most of the game, but Lexi Donarski and Emily Ryan stuck along with her. Donarski powered her way to 11 points early in the second half, knocking down shots from all over the court.

The player who quietly put on a textbook performance was Ryan. She needed just two assists to move to the No. 5 spot on the Iowa State career assist leaderboard. 

By the end of the first half, she had three, officially moving her up the list. Her first assist came on a perfect pass between two Texas Tech defenders to start Joens’ scoring run.

By the media timeout in the third quarter, Ryan had four assists, along with 13 points and six assists. She also had three blocks to help narrow the turnover margin.

By the end of the game, Ryan secured a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. She nearly had a triple-double with her six assists.

When one star took the lead in scoring for the Cyclones, another would tie it up. Donarski stopped a Texas Tech run late in the third quarter as she bullied in a layup in the paint to bring her total to 13 points.

Entering the last quarter, the big three plus Soares had 48 of the Cyclones’ 57 points. With Texas Tech cutting the lead to single digits, now the big four needed to continue dominating the floor. And they did.

With the Red Raiders surging back, the Cyclones cut off any hope of a comeback, hitting shot after shot. Donarksi picked up back-to-back layups late in the game to put the Cyclones back up to nearly a 20-point lead.

Donarski finished the game with 21 points, one of two Cyclones to score over 20 points. Her final two free throws put the game out of reach for Texas Tech.

The Cyclones could finally breathe a sigh of relief after a near-comeback from Texas Tech. As the Cyclones ran away with the game in the final minutes of the game, they picked up a win to open up Big 12 play in dominant fashion.