Cyclones hope to “come back stronger” at home against Jayhawks


LUKE LU/Iowa State Athletics

Iowa State freshman guard, Lexi Donarski, shoots the ball against Oklahoma State on Jan. 13 in a 90-80 win. (Photo courtesy of LUKE LU/Iowa State Athletics)

Aaron Hickman

Tied for first place in the Big 12 standings with Kansas and Oklahoma, No. 13 Iowa State will get a chance to break the tie with the Jayhawks on Wednesday night.

After the Joens sisters missed the game against Texas due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, only return for Sunday’s game against Baylor in a 26-point loss, they’re now back in the fold. Last week was the first time the Cyclones have lost back-to-back games all season.

That’s life in the Big 12 for you.

“The Big 12 does that to you, and life does that to you,” Head Coach Bill Fennelly said. “We’ve got to come back stronger and we’re playing a very good Kansas team, a team that’ll be in the NCAA Tournament, so it’s just the next game on the Big 12 schedule.”

Fennelly praised the leadership of his two young guards: Lexi Donarski and Emily Ryan, crediting them for the way the team carried themselves last week by inspiring and motivating their teammates.

Despite both playing in their sophomore seasons, that kind of leadership is something that Fennelly said could course-correct Iowa State following two very uncharacteristic blowouts.

There’s no better time for that course correction to happen, as three out of the next four games are at home for the Cyclones. Still, in a very desirable position in the conference standings, a little bit of “Hilton Magic” could help the team stay atop the Big 12.

“I’m excited to play at home,” Iowa State senior Ashley Joens said. “It’s been a couple weeks now for me. To get back in front of our fans, and they definitely help to give us that momentum, we love every time we get the opportunity to play at Hilton. We’ve got to make the most of it.”

Fennelly talked to reporters Tuesday about how basketball is different from a sport like football, where you have the entire week following a loss to feel sorry for yourself. In basketball, the Big 12 specifically, the next challenge is always right around the corner.

You have to move on and prepare yourself for what’s next, and the Cyclones are bought into that mentality.

“It was a tough week and we just have to bounce back from it, stick together and really embrace the Iowa State way,” Joens said. “[We] know that the toughest week we’ve had is behind us and we’ve got to improve off of that.”

Tip-off against Kansas will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hilton Coliseum. The game can be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.