Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones win 15th straight against Kansas


Iowa State sophomore guard Lexi Donarski plays defense during the Cyclones’ 70-55 win over Kansas State on Feb. 2.

Aaron Hickman

Raining down threes like nobody’s business and getting solid play from the usual suspects led to No. 9 Iowa State’s 85-59 victory on the road against Kansas Wednesday.

Keeping pace with No. 5 Baylor, who beat Oklahoma State 65-58, it was the 15th straight win over the Jayhawks for the Cyclones.

Lexi Donarski continued to shine as a two-way star, and Beatriz Jordão and Nyamer Diew’s solid play in the absence of Morgan Kane were a big part of the team’s 23rd win of the season.

Fifteen straight over Jayhawks

It’s been a whopping 15 straight victories over the Jayhawks for Iowa State. The Cyclones’ last loss in the series came on March 2, 2015 by a score of 68-64.

Wednesday’s victory tied the all-time series at 45 wins apiece, and it helped the Cyclones remain tied atop the Big 12 with No. 5 Baylor.

Shooting 17-34 from three and having four players in double figures helped the team cruise by the Jayhawks, as the barrage from beyond the arc started shortly after the opening tip.

Ashley Joens and Lexi Donarski led the way with five threes each, while Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw, Nyamer Diew and Aubrey Joens each had two. Emily Ryan had one to complete the 17.

Getting out to a 27-14 lead in the first quarter also helped immensely, as mini-runs by Kansas at various points throughout the game still weren’t enough to put any considerable dent in the point differential.

Building the lead up to 20 in the third quarter essentially sealed the game, as Kansas could never quite get the score within a reasonable striking distance to mount a comeback.

Not only was the win 15 straight in the series, but it was another one of the season sweeps that the team has preached about all season. Iowa State will have a chance to pick up two more with Texas Tech and West Virginia still on the schedule.

Donarski’s two-way play

Following a bounce-back performance on offense against Oklahoma on Saturday and locking down of one of the best three-point shooters in the country in Taylor Robertson, it was more of the same for Donarski against Kansas.

Holly Kersgieter, who averages 14 points-per-game for the Jayhawks, matched her season average with Donarski guarding her most of the night.

What makes Donarski’s performance so impressive is how inefficient Kersgieter was. Shooting 3-15 from the floor, with seven free throw making up half of her production, Kersgieter was treated to yet another defensive masterclass by Donarski.

In the first matchup between the two teams back in January, Kersgieter scored eight points on 3-9 shooting.

Donarski has been tasked with defending the other team’s best guard each game, and she continues to show why she has earned the trust of her teammates and coaches in that regard.

That defensive play becomes even more impressive when considering that Donarski is as dangerous of a threat on the other end of the floor as she is to opposing guards.

Offensively, Donarski contributed 21 points on 7-10 shooting from the floor and 5-6 shooting from beyond the arc.

Interior strong in Kane’s absence

With Morgan Kane missing Wednesday’s game due to a non-COVID related illness, Beatriz Jordão stepped into the starting lineup.

Nyamer Diew also had to play considerable minutes in the five spot which is something she hasn’t done much up to this point of the season.

The duo combined for 18 points and eight rebounds, with Jordão scoring in double digits with 10 points while grabbing two rebounds and Diew scoring eight points while snatching six rebounds.

Utilized as more of a stretch four so far this year, Diew was amongst the trees battling for boards and hustling on defense.

It was a very slow start for Diew, who was 0-10 from the floor and 0-5 from three before breaking through with a three in the fourth quarter. Her rough offensive play didn’t stop her from competing for all 21 minutes of action she saw, and her continued source of energy off the bench was big even while she was failing to score.

For Jordão, she continued to do what she has done all season, which is provide solid post play. Only playing for 16 minutes due to foul trouble, it was still a very efficient 4-6 shooting performance from the floor for the senior transfer.

With a crucial piece in Kane out, Iowa State Head Coach Bill Fennelly is likely to be happy with the steadiness of Jordão and the competitiveness of Diew in a spot she hasn’t really played in much this season.