‘You have to keep scoring’: Diew’s selflessness propels Cyclones to finals


Jacob Rice

Margan Kane hugs Nyamer Diew after their win over Oklahoma at the Big 12 women’s basketball semifinals in Kansas City, Mar. 11.

Christian Royston, Sports Editor

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Iowa State beat out Oklahoma in dominant fashion, as Nyamer Diew balled out off the bench to help the Cyclones leave with an 82-72 win.

Oklahoma came out on fire early on, taking a 11-3 lead halfway through the first quarter. Iowa State had some empty possessions and costly turnovers, which plagued them early in the contest.

When the Cyclones needed it most, a media timeout came and stopped all momentum Oklahoma had.

Right out of the media timeout, Lexi Donarski went face-to-face with Aubrey Joens. Donarski made a move inside before stepping back and knocking down a three. While Aubrey Joens fumbled to get back to guard her.

From that moment on, Municipal Auditorium was electric with cheers everytime the Cyclones found success. With the Hilton Magic coming alive in Kansas City, the Cyclones were fueled enough to surge back.

“Basketball’s a game of runs, so just stopping them when they’re going on a run” Diew said.

Stopping the runs was the key to getting the game back in the Cyclones favor, and that trend would come around later in the night.

A three from Diew and some work from Ashley Joens brought the game back in the Cyclones favor. 

It wasn’t until the second quarter when Diew came alive. Diew found herself wide open from beyond the arc on multiple occasions to give the Cyclones a lead.

“[Diew] is a very emotional kid. Obviously when things are going well, she’s very excited,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said. “It brings a little energy.”

Diew was also putting in work on the defensive end of the floor, fighting for steals and getting a crucial block to keep the Sooners from starting a run. By the second half, Diew was already over double-digit points.

Diew had done everything she could have done to come out of the locker room in the second half in the starting lineup. Just three minutes before the third quarter started, Diew’s name was already penciled into the game plan.

“Obviously [Diew] was great in the first half,” Fennelly said. “We were gonna start her in the second half.”

However, Diew had other plans.

As Fennelly stepped out on the court just minutes before the second half, Diew pulled him aside. She had just talked it over with associate head coach Jodi Steyer, and she felt like Morgan Kane deserved to start the second half.

Diew wanted to come off the bench.

Kane is a senior, so this would be the last Big 12 Championship of her career. Of course, Steyer and Fennelly agreed.

“I was a little stunned and very proud,” Fennelly said.

While the first half was Diew’s time to shine, Donarski got in on the action in the second.

Donarski knocked down a three earlier in the game, but she wanted more. Donarski found herself open in the corner halfway through the third quarter and knocked down a three to ignite the crowd.

“[Diew] knocked down some shots. Lexi knocked down some shots. Everyone really knocked down shots at the right time,” Ashley Joens said.

A few possessions later, Donarski drove to the rim and floated a shot over a defender, picking the shot and the foul. As the shot fell and the whistle blew, Donarski let out a roar which was welcomed by the crowd yelling back.

By the media timeout in the third quarter, Donarski was up to 16 points, tying Ashley Joens for the highest on the team.

As the fourth quarter rolled around, the game looked like it would be over soon. Then Oklahoma made a run.

“We had a four or five minute spurt where we really looked confused,” Fennelly said.

Iowa State had a 17-point lead early in the final quarter. The biggest lead of the night.

Then shots stopped falling for the Cyclones. When that happened, Oklahoma took advantage of the opportunity.

Over the next five minutes, Oklahoma picked apart Iowa State’s defense and slowly cut into the lead.

First the Sooners cut the lead to 10. Then to eight. Then to six. 

With four minutes left in the game, the Sooners were on an 11-0 run. The comeback was imminent.

Then Diew hit another three.

“Sometimes it doesn’t go in, but at the right time the basketball gods will reward us,” Diew said.

That shot not only sparked the crowd to jump on its feet, but it sparked the Cyclones to wake up from the slump they were in. It was clear from that moment that the Cyclones were going to the finals.

As the final buzzer rang, the Cyclones came out with a 10-point win over the Sooners. Diew ended the night with 19 points, making four crucial three-pointers.

Donarski ended with 20 points on 7-11 shooting, and Joens ended with 22 points and eight rebounds. Everyone pulled their weight on the offensive end of the floor to help the team advance.

“When you play Oklahoma, the thing that we said a thousand times, if we didn’t say it 10,000 times, was ‘you have to keep scoring,’” Fennelly said. “You have to keep scoring. That sounds silly, but against them, you do.”