Cyclones and Bears meet with Big 12 title on the line


(From left to right:) Emily Ryan, Ashley Joens, Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw and Lexi Donarski run off the court after the Cyclones’ 71-55 win over Texas Tech on Feb. 26.

Andrew Harrington

Bill Fennelly didn’t mince words when asked to summarize what the final stretch of the season means to the Cyclones.

“This is why you’ve done what you’ve done your whole year.” 

Fennelly and Iowa State are not looking at the upcoming match against Baylor as a challenge, but rather an opportunity to solidify themselves as one of the best teams in college basketball.

With an eight game winning streak, Baylor has worked its way into a tie for the top Big 12 spot with Iowa State. The winner of the upcoming meeting secures at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title.

The last time these two squads faced off, Baylor came away with a convincing 87-61 win. The Bears shot 12-21 from beyond the arc in the game, putting Iowa State away early.

This time around, both teams have been playing some top-tier basketball, and the game is one of the most anticipated in women’s college basketball this season. Regardless of the result, Fennelly is excited for the two teams to be able to showcase their skills to a large crowd.

“Big Monday,” Fennelly said. “We don’t get a lot of Big Monday games in the women’s game; that’s kind of cool. It’s probably a ridiculous statement to say you’re looking forward to playing Baylor; that’s kind of silly, but we’re looking forward to the opportunity, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun no matter what.”

The matchup to watch in this game is Ashley Joens and NaLyssa Smith. Smith has been the cornerstone of the Baylor offense, averaging 21.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per game this season. Joens is averaging 20.4 points and 9.3 rebounds.

The two are projected in the top five of many WNBA mock drafts and will be battling on a big stage. The game is set to begin at 6 p.m. on Monday in Hilton Coliseum and will be broadcast on ESPN2.