No. 9 Iowa State’s second-half adjustments beats Texas Tech


Jacob Rice/Iowa State Daily

Ashley Joens watches her shot in Iowa State’s 71-55 win against Texas Tech on Feb. 26.

Aaron Hickman

With 8:54 left in the third quarter, Texas Tech took its first lead of the game on a basket by Ella Tofaeono over the No. 9 Iowa State on Saturday.

It would be the Red Raiders’ only lead, as Ashley Joens responded with a three that put Iowa State back up for good.

And that’s all she wrote.

“I think when you’re playing at home and you look up at the scoreboard and you’re losing, it probably should be a wake-up call,” Iowa State Head Coach Bill Fennelly said.

Outscoring Texas Tech 38-20 in what remained of the game, the No. 9 Cyclones picked up a 71-55 victory at home to pick up a season-sweep of the Red Raiders and hold up their end of the bargain in potentially hosting a first-place game against Baylor on Monday.

At times in the first half, Iowa State looked out of sorts. The performance looked like a far-cry from the 86-65 win in Lubbock back in January.

Holding on to a 33-31 lead at the half, Fennelly’s halftime speech included plenty of talk about defensive effort.

When taking a look at the box score, it appears the speech worked.

After allowing the Red Raiders to shoot over 53% in the first quarter and just under 43% in the second, those numbers took quite the turn in the second half.

Only converting on 31.3% of its attempted field goals, Texas Tech had its two lowest scoring quarters of the game in the third and fourth quarters. On the other side of things, Iowa State shot over 66% in the third and had its highest scoring quarter.

“Our defense picked up in the second half, and that kind of helped us lead into some more fluid offense,” Joens said. “Our defense a lot of times helps our offense, and that was the biggest turnaround.”

Another big part of Iowa State’s big second half was the impact of yet another Lexi Donarski defensive masterclass.

The effect that Donarski has on every opponent’s best guard has become something that is discussed game-in and game-out. Saturday was no different, as Vivian Gray scored just nine points on 3-16 shooting.

She averages over 21 points-per-game this season.

Texas Tech Head Coach Krista Gerlich credited Donarski for the job she did on her star player.

“I think Lexi’s a great athlete, really plays hard and does a great job of using her length,” Gerlich said. “I think Iowa State as a whole does a nice job of taking away your strengths and made it difficult.”

Fennelly ensured that his team doesn’t get caught looking ahead, and that the sole focus today was on Texas Tech.

He’s coached teams in the past that have looked ahead, he said, but this year’s team knows how to take a business-like approach.

Regardless, Monday’s game against No. 5 Baylor looms large. Currently tied for first in the conference with the Bears, whoever wins the matchup is likely to finish as the Big 12 regular season champion.

Donarski said the title has been a goal of the team’s all season. Joens went a step further, saying that the team set the goal of a regular season title and tournament victory in the Big 12.

“Just to see how far we’ve come, we can’t let up now,” Joens said. “We just have to keep pushing on the gas pedal and focus in and get this next one.”