Iowa State looks to embrace the moment in matchup against Baylor


Tyler Coe

Morgan Kane finishes under the basket against Oklahoma State on Jan. 18, 2023.

Payne Blazevich, Sports Reporter

In a challenging road environment against Kansas State Wednesday, No. 12 Iowa State was bogged down with foul trouble preceding an eventual upset loss. Now, the Cyclones look to bounce back against Baylor Saturday.

Last season, Iowa State failed to take down the Bears, losing both games by more than 20 points. Despite the Cyclones’ ability to score, the size of Baylor was too much to handle. 

Even though the Bears are a little smaller this season, their dominance in recent years is something Iowa State wants to look past. 

“I haven’t thought about it at all,” guard Ashley Joens said, on whether or not she had thought about their performance against Baylor last season. “We’re focused on what’s coming up.” 

Baylor was one of the few teams that consistently got the best of Iowa State last season. The Cyclones had a dominant, 28-win year but couldn’t overcome teams with size and physicality. 

Texas and Baylor were the Achilles heel of Iowa State’s winningest team in program history, and the Bears are again in the running for the Big 12 title. Baylor’s lineup doesn’t contain the size that has grown typical with the program, but their athleticism will still give the Cyclones problems. 

“They’re still a big, strong, fast team and they’re gonna come out and give us everything they have, and we just have to counter it,” Joens said. 

Physicality put Iowa State in a tricky position in its previous matchup against Kansas State Wednesday. The Cyclones were a bit too eager on the defensive end, placing key players like Joens, guard Nyamer Diew and star defender Lexi Donarski in early foul trouble. 

Iowa State can’t afford to sit contributors on the bench for a long period of time Saturday. Kansas State took advantage of its opportunity to come back when Joens rode the bench, chipping away at the lead while the Cyclones’ leading scorer sat out.

That level of advantage is something Iowa State has to keep out of Baylor’s hands. 

“That’s gonna happen on the road in this league, but it was definitely a tough day for (Joens) and even though she’s a fifth-year senior, it’s still frustrating,” head coach Bill Fennelly said. “You wanna play, you wanna contribute, and those are things that Ash’ is still learning.” 

One thing that will play in Iowa State’s favor Saturday is the home-court advantage in Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones still have yet to lose a game at home this season, and they took down No. 14 Oklahoma in front of an energized crowd a week ago.

Baylor, however, has been a team that can embrace the big stage, Fennelly said. He wants to see Iowa State do a better job of rising to the occasion, especially in a game where the Cyclones look to climb back into the Big 12 regular season title race. 

“When they came in here last year, they just pounded us and we had no chance, no answer for it. We need to embrace (the moment), I thought we did last Saturday a little bit better in a big game,” Fennelly said.