Three Big Takeaways: Four minutes is all they need, Cyclones move on


Tyler Coe

Nyamir Diew celebrates an Ashley Joens three against Baylor in the Big 12 quarterfinals on Mar. 10, 2023.

Christian Royston, Sports Editor

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Iowa State put on a show in its first matchup of the Big 12 Tournament, taking down Baylor 74-63 Friday.

Although the Cyclones separated themselves at the end, Baylor kept the game close through a majority of the contest. Physicality on both ends forced the teams to adapt and be creative to find blunders in the defenses.

The one Cyclone who was the catalyst in Iowa State’s hot offense was none other than Ashley Joens.

Joens sparks Iowa State’s offense

Right from the start, Joens was putting on a show.

With how physical Baylor was playing early, Joens had to get creative. She passed a ball over the basket to find Kane waiting eagerly to put up an easy layup.

A couple possessions later, Joens barrelled through a defender and passed it around their back to find Kane again under the basket.

“When you get into March, you just have to go out there and give it everything you have,” Joens said. “If you lose you’re done, so you can’t really take anything for granted. You have to leave it all out on the court.”

The Cyclones burst out to a big lead early on, but simmered down as Baylor clamped down on defense.

By halftime, Joens was sitting at 10 points and eight rebounds. Just a few minutes away from another double-double.

As the second half started, Joens secured her double-double as she continued to lead the team in scoring. First came 15 points, then 20. It seemed as though Joens was unstoppable.

The four-minute miracle

Halfway through the final quarter, the game was all square: 63-63.

Joens was about to change that. Joens bullied her way through the lane to get the Cyclones back to a somewhat comfortable lead. Then one possession later she found herself open from beyond the arc.

Joens put up a shot.


Municipal Auditorium erupted as the Cyclones rushed back down to defend. From that moment on the momentum was all in Iowa State’s favor, and it seemed as though Joens couldn’t be stopped.

“Those are just shots that when they go in you get to play tomorrow,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said.

With four minutes left in the game, Joens was up to 24 points and 12 rebounds. Her efforts in the final minutes were a key reason Iowa State kept the game even.

With three minutes left, Joens put up another shot from deep. Splash.

Then one possession later she put another one. Splash.

Joens wasn’t just red-hot, she was on fire.

With just two minutes left, Iowa State’s lead was too big for Baylor to overcome. Joens did her job. Iowa State was moving on to the semifinals.

“Wish we could bottle that last 3:59, that’s for sure,” Fennelly said.

Quiet dominance in the paint

Although Joens’ 30 points and seven three-pointers were the focus of the night, there was a lot of quiet dominance in Iowa State’s post play.

Kane was putting in work in the paint throughout the game to deal with Baylor’s physicality. Halfway through the second quarter, Kane was nearing double-digits with eight points and had four rebounds to add to that.

“I think it is a talent, a skill to show up to work every day,” Fennelly said. “I think it’s true, and [Kane] shows up to work every day. Whatever she’s asked to do, she does it.”

Izzi Zingaro also came in to give the Cyclones meaningful minutes in the post. Iowa State needed to deal with Baylor’s physicality under the basket, and Zingaro was the answer.

Zingaro battled for rebounds while getting the ball to the basket on several occasions.

It was clear that the Cyclones wanted a solid presence in the post to deal with Baylor’s dominant scoring in the lane. Kane and Zingaro were the presence Iowa State needed.

“When you play a Big 12 game and you out rebound someone by 25, especially our team, that has nothing to do with how high you jump or how tall you are,” Fennelly said. “That’s how big your damn heart is.”

Halfway through the third quarter, the post players started to put in more work to add to Iowa State’s creativity on offense. Setting screens all over the court and forcing Baylor defenders off of potential threats helped the Cyclones hang with the Bears.

When the Cyclones needed to fend Baylor off and make a run, Kane was there to help the offense.

After the night was over, Iowa State came out with a win, and the Cyclones got the chance for some rest before going out a day later to take on a tough Oklahoma team at 2:30 p.m.