Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State makes quick work of TCU


Daniel Jacobi II

(From L to R) Morgan Kane and Denae Fritz share a laugh during the game against TCU in Hilton Coliseum on Feb. 25, 2023.

Christian Royston, Sports Reporter

AMES — Iowa State made quick work of TCU, picking up a dominating 84-56 win in the second-to-last home game of the season.

With the end in sight, the Cyclones showed the world what to expect in March. Iowa State played nearly flawless on the offensive end of the court, while suffocating TCU on defense.

Every healthy Iowa State player saw time on the court, while a handful of players were heavily active in the scoring. It was an overall efficient win by the Cyclones, as they look to wrap up the season on a strong note.

Ashley Joens does Ashley Joens things

It was just another game for Joens, as she did what she does best and dominated the offense for the Cyclones.

Early on it seemed as though Joens was going to have another monster night. As Iowa State looked to find its bearings, TCU exploded out of the gates, maintaining a lead throughout most of the first quarter.

“They made some tough shots early,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said.

Joens had nearly every point for the Cyclones in the early minutes of the game. She was dominating the board on both ends of the floor, getting offensive rebounds and driving through the lane to brute force points on the board.

Joens then got success behind the arc in the second quarter, knocking down back-to-back threes to pile onto her already impressive total. As Iowa State built up a 23-point lead at the half, Joens had 20 points to her name already shooting 70 percent from the field. 

“I think [Joens] was really as efficient as she’s been,” Fennelly said.

She also brought much-needed energy to Hilton. Early in the second quarter Joens knocked down a deep three to get the Hilton crowd on its feet. 

By the time the final quarter rolled around, Joens was up to 22 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. Her 60th double-double.

The lead that Iowa State built was too much for TCU to overcome and Joens earned some rest on the bench for the final 10 minutes.

“It’s hard to believe she’s only got one more shot at it,” Fennelly said. “I think [the fans] saw one of her better first halves that she’s ever played here. Hopefully she’s got one more good one in her.”

All aboard the Kane train

Joens may have been active on offense, but that didn’t stop others from getting their work around the basket.

As the first quarter came to a close, TCU was still hot on Iowa State’s heels. That changed fast as Lexi Donarski knocked down a huge three at the buzzer to give Iowa State momentum to build off throughout the rest of the contest.

“Lexi’s three at the end of the first quarter was a huge momentum swing for us,” Emily Ryan said. 

Denae Fritz was also keeping pace with Joens early on, knocking down an early three and picking up second chance baskets. Alongside her, others were picking up scores when Joens was getting covered up.

Three players were up to seven points at the half, as Ryan, Donarski and Fritz all found success around the basket.

Morgan Kane had been dominant on defense, causing problems in the lane for TCU all night. However, Kane usually isn’t flashy on offense, but Saturday night was a little different.

“[Kane] the last couple of games has done really well,” Joens said. “I think she’s kinda got her confidence back.”

After the half it was all aboard the Kane train. Kane powered her way to the rim when needed and was nearing the double-digit mark early into the third quarter.

Just as Kane started to slow down, Nyamer Diew took the reins, hitting a three late in the third quarter to ignite the crowd. It seemed every Cyclone was finding success as the lead grew over 30 points.

As the Cyclones extended their lead further, the final quarter came quickly. Donarksi, Ryan and Kane were all in double digits, with Fritz knocking on the door with nine. 

With just minutes left in the game, Iowa State was starting to give its bench players some time on the court. With the lead as big as it was, Iowa State players were starting to have some fun.

Kane had dominated the paint all game, as she tended to do in many matchups. However, she went out of her comfort zone and put up a three-pointer late in the final quarter.

The crowd fell silent as the ball traveled through the air and erupted when it hit nothing but net. Kane could leave the game with a three-pointer on her stat sheet.

“Greatly diagrammed three out of the timeout by Coach [Fennelly]. [Kane] stepped up with confidence. She stepped into it, knew she had a green light and she pulled it,” Ryan said. 

Kane finished out the game with 17 points, matching her career high.

One more time around the block

With the season coming to a close, March is clearly in sight. Tournament play is around the corner and Iowa State is looking to make a splash in the postseason.

With the Cyclones quickly wrapping up the sweep over TCU, there is just one game left to play at Hilton Coliseum. 

“Hard to believe we’re down to the last week,” Fennelly said. “Very proud of the way we played today.”

The postseason could bring new and tougher challenges for the Cyclones, but they look to be prepared for the task at hand. TCU may not have caused Iowa State to stretch too far, but recent matchups have shown how tough the road ahead can be.

The loss to Oklahoma State was eye-opening for the Cyclones, while the same could be said for Texas and Baylor with Iowa State’s wins. Losses don’t just mean an extra figure added to the loss column; they mean the end of the entire season.

“We’re getting to the point in the season where you’re gonna walk out of a building with a loss, and it’s the end,” Fennelly said. “The end.”

Lexi Donarski and the Iowa State bench wait for her three-point shot to go into the hoop during the game against TCU in Hilton Coliseum on Feb. 25, 2023. (Daniel Jacobi II)

No matter what the future holds, Iowa State is looking to tackle the challenges ahead the best it can. The team knows how important each and every game coming up is, so they are going to make sure they leave it all out on the court.

“You want to end up walking out feeling like, ‘Hey, they were just better than us,’” Fennelly said.

Fennelly noted how tough it was to pick up 10 wins in the Big 12, and avoiding getting swept against any team in the conference was the cherry on top. Iowa State can compete with any team in the Big 12, and maybe even the nation.

The win over TCU was a statement-win for the Cyclones. They are here to compete.

“If we do the things that we know we can do, we can compete,” Fennelly said.