‘Balanced defense and throw the ball to Joens’: Iowa State secures another win


Tyler Coe

Ashley Joens scores 2 against Kansas on Jan. 21, 2023.

Payne Blazevich, Sports Reporter

A standout performance from guard Ashley Joens helped No. 18 Iowa State secure another Big 12 victory Saturday. The Cyclones continued to show signs of improvement in the 64-50 win. 

Joens started off quiet, scoring her first basket with 5:46 to go in the first quarter. But once she found her groove, the All-American didn’t slow down, leading Iowa State in scoring with 26 points. 

Joens’ shooting touch spread to the rest of the team, as the Cyclones continued to show signs of improvement in an important Big 12 win. 

“I keep telling our team, ‘you find a way or you find an excuse.’ There’s not gonna be any excuses with us, that’s not happening,” head coach Bill Fennelly said. 

Despite holding a lead since the end of the first quarter, Joens was the only Cyclone to reach double figures until a basket from center Izzi Zingaro with a little over four minutes left in the fourth. Her 15 points and 10 rebounds in the first half helped Iowa State put the game out of reach well before the final buzzer. 

Joens shot 10-19 from the field and connected on five triples. She also added five rebounds to her total in the second half, ending the game with 15. It was one of those nights for the veteran, and her ability to score at will took over the offensive gameplan. 

“It was balanced defense and throw the ball to Joens,” Fennelly said. “That’s kind of how the game went and that’s what we did.” 

Although Joens’ scoring ability dominated the stat sheet, she wasn’t the only player to find success behind the arc. Iowa State shot 38.7% from the three-point line, attempting 31 threes in total. 

Guards Lexi Donarski and Nyamer Diew scored each of their nine points from the three-point line. Joens gave the Jayhawks trouble, but it was the triples from other players that put away Kansas. 

“I think there’s times when you have to pick your poison,” Kansas coach Brandon Schneider said. 

The 14-point win came off the back of a key victory against Oklahoma State Wednesday. The Cyclones pulled out a close win over the Cowgirls, and responded with a dominant performance against Kansas. 

Iowa State has shown improvement over the past couple of weeks, and the team’s ability to secure key wins has correlated with the improvement shown by Zingaro. 

Following a season-ending injury to center Stephanie Soares, Iowa State has relied on Morgan Kane and Zingaro to take over down low. Kane had experience as the starting center, but Zingaro didn’t have the same amount of minutes before being thrust into her new role. 

But with time, Zingaro has shown steady improvement.

Izzi Zingaro tries to push past a defender during the game against Kansas in Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 21, 2023. (Daniel Jacobi II)

“It feels great. I’m happy that I’m able to contribute to the team and remain competitive throughout the game, and I look forward to what the future brings,” Zingaro said. 

She scored a career high 11 points against the Jayhawks, and was able to pull down six rebounds and a block in her 14 minutes. Her performance followed a productive game against Oklahoma State where she scored a pair of critical buckets in the close win. 

Zingaro’s minutes have continued to stack as she has shown improvement. She has turned into a reliable big for the Cyclones, and will be an important piece of Iowa State’s gameplan as it moves through its Big 12 schedule. 

“The improvement is effort by the players and an amazing coaching staff that is so committed to figuring out the next way for Iowa State to be successful,” Fennelly said.