Three Big Takeaways: Toledo rockets to victory, cold shooting plagues Cyclones


Jacob Rice

Rori Harmon shoots for two at the Big 12 women’s basketball championship game, Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, MO, Mar. 12, 2023.

Christian Royston, Sports Editor

Iowa State’s NCAA Tournament journey ended prematurely, as No. 12 Toledo pulled off the upset, taking down the No. 5 Cyclones 80-73.

From the start, it looked as though the two teams would stay neck-and-neck through the entire contest, but the Cyclones couldn’t get over their poor-shooting bug. Toledo ran away with the game in the second quarter, building up a lead that was too big for Iowa State to overcome.

The Cyclones ended their season in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, less than one week after becoming Big 12 Champs. Senior guard Ashley Joens had herself another impressive outing but had to hang up her jersey sooner than expected, as her 23 points weren’t enough to take down the Rockets.

Cold shooting plagues Cyclones early

Iowa State jumped out to an early 9-5 lead, but Toledo wasn’t going to roll over. The Rockets surged to take a small 10-9 lead.

Lexi Donarski answered back as she drove through the lane, knocking down a layup. From that point on, it was a constant back on forth for both teams. 

It was clear that both teams were eager to get points on the board. Neither team took long on the possessions, getting baskets right as the possessions started.

The possessions started to slow down in the second half of the first quarter as both defenses started to buckle down. Iowa State still maintained a 23-20 lead as the second quarter started.

Toledo took advantage of Iowa State’s cold shooting early into the second quarter, taking a 34-25 lead after a 12-0 run. The Cyclones needed to get something going if they wanted to keep their tournament alive.

Donarski took things into her own hands and drove into the lane, putting up a shot just outside the paint. Finally, the Cyclones came up with a bucket with three minutes left in the first half. 

However, Toledo didn’t back down, ending the half with a 43-36 lead. The Cyclones would have their work cut out for them in the second half.

The Cyclones shot just over 40 percent from the field, shooting 2-9 from three. Toledo knocked down five of its nine three-point attempts.

Turning it on late

After missing her first three of the half, Joens connected on her second attempt to cut into Toledo’s lead.

However, that three didn’t spark Iowa State’s offense, as shots continued to fall flat. With Iowa State struggling on offense, Toledo took advantage of any crack in Iowa State’s defense.

Soon enough, the Cyclones found themselves down by 16. With 15 minutes left in the game, Toledo looked close to pulling off the upset.

With time ticking down in the third quarter, the Cyclones were shooting just 25 percent from the field. Then momentum started to slowly shift in Iowa State’s favor.

Joens got a few trips to the line, putting her over 20 points on the day. The Cyclones cut the lead to 11.

Then Donarski took a shot from the corner. She hit nothing but net.

The Cyclones cut Toledo’s lead to single digits. They were on a 7-0 run going into the final quarter.

Can’t contain Lockett

Iowa State kept the run going to start the fourth quarter, but it was short-lived as the Rockets banked in a three to get their lead back to nine.

From that point on, it was a back-and-forth game, but the Cyclones couldn’t make enough of a dent in Toledo’s lead to pull out a win.

The key to success for Iowa State going into the matchup was containing Toledo’s star player Quinesha Lockett. As the game rolled on, it was obvious why that was the case.

Lockett started the first quarter scoreless, taking just one shot from the field. However, it wasn’t long before she got hot. 

Lockett scored 11 points in the second quarter, and from then on, points just kept coming. By the final quarter, she was over the 20-point mark alongside Joens.

When Iowa State was trying to get a run going late in the game, Lockett shut down all momentum from the Cyclones. She constantly drove to the rim and kept securing points for the Rockets.

Lockett finished the game with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Joens also had a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds, but Joens’ final performance in a Cyclones jersey wasn’t enough to overcome the team’s cold shooting.

Iowa State finished the game shooting just 35 percent from the field, making just six of its 31 three-point attempts. When the Cyclones needed threes to fall late, they weren’t falling.

The Cyclones finished their season in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, falling to Toledo 80-73.