Iowa State’s Ashley Joens stands as bright spot in win over New Orleans


Sarah Henry/Iowa State Daily

Then-freshman Ashley Joens blocks an oncoming player from Missouri State during their game against the Missouri State Bears in the second round of the NCAA Championship on March 25 at Hilton Coliseum. 

Jack Shover

Iowa State beat non-conference opponent New Orleans 71-53 on Sunday, but Coach Bill Fennelly was “disappointed” in the Cyclones’ performance.

Ashley Joens carried the Cyclones throughout the game, and Fennelly identified her performance as the only bright spot for the Cyclones.

“Joens played a great game today,” Fennelly said. “To be honest with you, I think she was the only one who showed up today.”

On the offensive end, Joens had 24 points on 9-17 shooting from the field (6-6 on free throws).

To create offense, Joens said she used her play on the defensive end and rebounding to create opportunities.

Joens had six steals and seven rebounds for the Cyclones.

On defense, Joens said she focused on that end and turned up her energy.

Once the team was on the attack, Joens said she took advantage of the shorter New Orleans defenders by using her size to score in the paint.

In the end, Fennelly said the difference in the game was that the Cyclones had Joens and New Orleans didn’t.

Kristin Scott and Madi Wise, two players who usually make significant contributions for the Cyclones, didn’t make much of an impact.

Wise, a starter, missed the game due to migraines, making it the second straight game the junior wing player has missed. Scott, a preseason All-Big 12 selection, started but only played just over 16 minutes.

Scott has been recovering from a back issue that has limited her playing time early this season, and against New Orleans, she was forced from the contest after reaggravating the injury.

“Obviously, it’s hard for us to look big picture when Kristin [Scott] gets two points and Maggie [Espenmiller-McGraw] got two, so those games are going to happen; so when those games happen, we’ve got to do other things better,” Fennelly said.

Espenmiller-McGraw, a freshman who entered college as a five-star recruit, has struggled shooting early this season. On Sunday, she shot 1-6 from the field (0-3 from three), but she did add eight assists and five rebounds.

With those aforementioned players failing to contribute, forward Inès Nezerwa stepped into Scott’s spot and scored 21 points — but her performance reflected the Cyclones’ issues during the game.

Fennelly said Nezerwa needed to make a bigger impact rebounding, and she had too many turnovers for a post.

Nezerwa had four rebounds for the game. For comparison, Scott had five rebounds in 10 less minutes on the court. Nezerwa also committed five turnovers.

Iowa State allowed nine offensive rebounds and had 16 turnovers.

Whether it was stepping out of bounds or throwing the ball away for easy layups for New Orleans, Fennelly said the team failed to take care of the basketball — something that can’t continue.

“Some of [the turnovers] were just a lack of fundamentals, a lack of focus,” Fennelly said.

Overall, Fennelly saw the game as a step back for the Cyclones and emphasized that the team will need to get back to form during the Cyclones’ coming practices.

With Alabama on the schedule for Thursday and then Iowa on Dec. 11, the Cyclones will need to step up their game to compete with Power Five opponents.