Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State shuts down Kansas, Joens has big night


Daniel Jacobi II

Ashley Joens waits underneath the hoop to try and rebound a ball during the game against Kansas in Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 21, 2023.

Christian Royston, Sports Reporter

AMES — Coming off a tightly contested win over Oklahoma State, the Cyclones extended their home winning streak in dominant fashion, taking down Kansas 64-50.

The Cyclones shot lights out from beyond the arc, while putting together a defensive performance that would have the Jayhawks shaking in their boots for weeks to come. 

Ashley Joens came off a quiet night against the Cowgirls to explode to a nearly 30-point performance against Kansas. When all was said and done, Iowa State could look toward its upcoming road matchup with heads held high, as another Big 12 win was in the books.

Tale of two teams

Throughout the game, it seemed as though the teams were playing the opposite type of game as the other team. 

Iowa State dominated from deep, while the Jayhawks powered their way to points in the paint. Kansas started the game with two unanswered layups before Iowa State answered back with a three.

Early in the game, the Cyclones were shooting worse from the field than they were from the three-point line. They started off less than 20% from the field before Joens said enough was enough. 

Joens started the game missing her first four shots but made up for it quickly. She knocked down back-to-back threes to give the Cyclones a lead early on.

By the end of the first quarter, the Cyclones were shooting just 31.2% from the field. They looked much better from beyond the arc, knocking down 36% of their shots. Every single point the Cyclones scored in the first quarter came from beyond the arc.

On the other hand, Kansas missed all four of its three-point attempts in the first quarter but hung close to Iowa State thanks to 10 points in the paint.

By the half, Iowa State had hit 7-20 from three, while the Jayhawks missed all seven of their attempts. However, the Cyclones only attempted two layups in the entire half.

Kansas outscored Iowa State 16-6 in the paint, but that didn’t stop the Cyclones from taking a double-digit lead by the half.

Kansas didn’t hit a three until halfway through the third quarter. By then, the shot did little to make a dent in Iowa State’s lead.

A clear momentum shift came late in the third quarter, with Kansas surging back. The Cyclones had a three-point play from Joens, as she powered her way to the basket before getting fouled. 

Kansas was still clawing its way back into the game, despite the play. However, a deep three from Nyamer Diew caused Hilton to erupt, as the Cyclones had a 15-point lead going into the final 10 minutes of the game.

“Credit her for making those shots. I think there are times where you have to pick your poison,” Kansas head coach Brandon Schneider said. “Those didn’t bother me near as much as the ones that Ashley and Lexi got in the first half when we were not in their airspace.”

By the end of the game, the Cyclones put up 31 three-pointers and hit 12 of them. Throughout the night, they shot better from three than anywhere else on the court. 

Kansas ended the night shooting just 12.5% from three, with one of their two threes coming at the final buzzer. However, the Jayhawks nearly doubled Iowa State’s points in the paint.

It truly was a mirrored performance from both teams, and in the end, Iowa State came out on top because of the shots from deep. The Cyclones weren’t expecting to have many opportunities in the paint, and Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly almost scared the team into finding openings from deep.

“It was my fault. I think I scared them a little too much about No. 1,” Fennelly said. “Like, ‘oh, don’t throw it in there, she’s gonna block your shot.’ So we just said to heck with it, we’ll just start chucking it.”

Bigger is better

Without Stephanie Soares, the Cyclones had no answer to Kansas’ 6-foot-6 center, Taiyanna Jackson. The Cyclones experimented with different lineups, but one thing was obvious, they needed size to deal with size.

Morgan Kane and Diew had plenty of experience on the court, but it was clear that a forward wasn’t going to cut it against Kansas’ size. The Cyclones needed to bring in their center, Izzi Zingaro.

With the pressure on, Zingaro was faced with a tough task. She had a few games of experience, and every game she got better and better.

Izzi Zingaro runs into a defender during the game against Kansas in Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 21, 2023. (Daniel Jacobi II)

Zingaro came in to help even out the rebounding on both sides of the ball and made her presence known instantly. She came up with great defensive plays, including a steal in her first defensive possession of the game. 

“To go out there and give us that physical presence against a really good post player, one of the best in the country, let alone the Big 12, I thought was good,” Fennelly said.

Zingaro also scored the Cyclones’ first points in the paint, hitting a layup to start the second quarter. Just one possession later, she nailed two free throws to extend Iowa State’s lead to 7.

Although Zingaro didn’t play many minutes on the court, she made the most of the time she had. With Kansas focusing on three-point defense, the Cyclones had opportunities to find Zingaro in the paint.

By the final quarter, Zingaro became the second Cyclone of the night to hit double-digits. With four fouls and the Cyclones leading by over 20 points with just three minutes left in the game, it was time for Zingaro to hit the bench.

“Yeah she was feeling it,” Fennelly said. “She chucked up that three at the end of the game. Oof.”

Zingaro didn’t need the three, though, as she ended the game with 11 points and 6 rebounds. A new career-high in points for her.

Fennelly wasn’t expecting to see Zingaro this early in the season, or maybe at all, but injuries paved the path for her to shine. With her help on defense, the Cyclones as a unit put together a masterclass that had the Jayhawks scrambling for any points they could get.

“We could not have defended any better than we defended tonight,” Fennelly said. “Coach Heacock would be very proud.”

Don’t worry, she’s back

After a 10-point performance against Oklahoma State, Joens was expected to bounce back in a strong fashion. She did secure the double-double with 12 rebounds, but tends to be one of the leading scorers on the team.

Early on, it looked as though Joens would have a night.

“From a basketball standpoint, I’d say Ashley Joens was Ashley Joens,” Fennelly said.

After a missed layup, Joens was knocking down threes left and right to put up 9 points early in the game. By the second quarter, she was up to 11 points, the first Cyclone to pass the 10-point mark.

Not only was she knocking down shots, Joens was spurring on the rest of the team to continue their dominance from the three-point line. 

“You never know who’s gonna be hot one night, and tonight I was hitting them and Wednesday I wasn’t,” Joens said. “Someone always steps up.”

By the end of the first half, Joens had already secured a double-double. She had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Joens didn’t stop there. Every time the Jayhawks made a push to get back in the game, Joens would find a wide-open shot from beyond the arc to stop all the momentum they had.

Joens finished the game with 26 points and 15 rebounds, shooting nearly 50% from three. 

“That was the kinda game that offensively, our team needed,” Fennelly said. “We’ve had some really good games, maybe the last two or three, where we’ve had really good balance. There was no balance tonight. It was balanced defense and throw the ball to Joens.”

Joens was back to her regular self, and the Cyclones thrived because of that. Other Cyclones tended to step up to replace any offense that Joens lacked on any given night, but that wasn’t necessarily against Kansas.