Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State blows past Texas Tech on senior night


Marijke Mendeszoon

Morgan Kane receives a hug from her teammate after being taken out for the last time against Texas Tech on March 4, 2023.

Payne Blazevich, Sports Reporter

No. 23 Iowa State took down Texas Tech in dominating fashion Saturday, closing out the regular season with an important win on senior night. 

After a slow first quarter, the Cyclones surged, knocking down shots all over the floor. Star guard Ashley Joens led the team to a 76-52 win in her final performance in Hilton Coliseum. 

In the final game of a season full of ups and downs, Iowa State was able to comfortably put away Texas Tech and carry some crucial momentum into the postseason. 

All fun and games until the shots start falling

Iowa State was slow to pick up points in the first quarter, allowing Texas Tech to take an early seven-point lead. But once the shots started falling, there was no stopping the Cyclones. 

From the second quarter on, Iowa State shot 45.4 percent from the field. The triples were raining in, as the Cyclones connected on 10 threes in the matchup. 

“We’re a team that’s gonna shoot,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said. “I think our numbers are not what they were last year, but they’re better.” 

Joens led the Cyclones in scoring, but guard Emily Ryan also reached double figures while guards Lexi Donarski and Denae Fritz scored nine points.

Texas Tech challenged Iowa State early in the matchup, but once the Cyclones found their shooting rhythm, the lead grew too large for the Lady Raiders to overcome. 

“If you’re taking the right shot by the right person at the right time, you live with the make and the miss, and I think recently we’ve seen some go in and that’s probably a good thing,” Fennelly said. 

Joens’ farewell performance

Joens took the floor one final time in Hilton Coliseum and led Iowa State in a comfortable season finale win. 

She put up 22 points in the matchup and knocked down three shots from behind the arc. A deficit-trimming three-pointer from Joens with 3:30 to go in the first quarter brought the crowd to its feet, and her consistent scoring kept Texas Tech on its back foot. 

“It was just a pretty amazing moment,” Joens said about her final home game, in a tearful postgame press conference. “I got the opportunity to come back for another year and play with this team and they mean so much.” 

Along with Joens, graduating seniors Morgan Kane and Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw contributed to the blowout win. Kane put up eight points and secured four rebounds, while Espenmiller-McGraw knocked down a triple. 

As the group of seniors jogged to the bench with 3:34 left in the game, the crowd produced its loudest cheer of the night. 

“It’s sad to think it’s over, but we got more to do here in the postseason,” Joens said.

On to the postseason

With the win, Iowa State ends the regular season with a 19-9 record and an 11-7 record in the Big 12. The victory slots Iowa State at third place in the Big 12, behind Oklahoma and Texas. 

The Cyclones struggled to put together wins at times during the season, but a strong finish to the year gives the team confidence heading into the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments. 

“It’ll be fun knowing that we get to play together still, like this wasn’t the last ride, so we still have a lot to play for,” Ryan said. 

In last year’s postseason, Iowa State reached the semifinal game in the Big 12 tournament, falling to Texas in overtime. After the loss, Iowa State was able to put together a run in the big dance, earning a Sweet Sixteen berth in the NCAA Tournament. 

A series of tiebreakers and a dominant final performance at home landed Iowa State the three-seed for the Big 12 tournament. 

The Cyclones fought through a tough regular season and Big 12 slate, playing through injuries and shooting slumps. The players enjoyed the moment on senior night, but the team agrees a whole new challenge lies ahead. 

“It’s just been a long ride and things aren’t always easy and we’ve been through a lot of ups and downs together,” Joens said. “You gotta go out every game, and if you lose you’re done, so you go out and give it all you can and leave everything on the court.”