Cyclones head to first ever game at North Dakota State


Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw surveys the perimeter against the Southern on Nov 7.

Sam Stuve

For only the second time in program history, the Iowa State women’s basketball team faces the North Dakota State Bison. This matchup will be the first meeting between the two teams in Fargo, North Dakota.

The only other time the two faced each other was on January 4, 2011, when Iowa State defeated North Dakota State 80-51 in Ames.

Tip-off is 7 p.m. Friday at the Scheels Center in Fargo, North Dakota. Iowa State is the first team in the Big 12 to play a road game against North Dakota State.

One thing to note is that former Iowa State guard Sofija Zivaljevic has taken over the starting point guard position in her second season at North Dakota State.

Zivaljevic is averaging seven points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game and 2.7 assists per game.

Last season, the Bison finished 7-22 (4-12 Summit) and fired their head coach Maren Walseth. In the offseason, the Bison nabbed former Emporia State head coach and Kansas assistant coach Jory Collins to fill the head coach position.

Since Collins was an assistant on the Kansas coaching staff, Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly expects North Dakota State to play a bit like Kansas does.

“I’m sure they’ll have the same toughness and physicality that Kansas likes to play with,” Fennelly said.

Collins hasn’t had a solid start for the Bison, as he has yet to coach the team to their first victory of the season. The Bison have lost all four of their games thus far this season.

The Bison have suffered two road losses and two home losses. On the road, the Bison have a 95-63 loss at Northern Iowa and a 70-59 loss to Creighton. At home, the Bison have losses to Northern Illinois in overtime 74-68 and a 66-54 loss to Valparaiso.

As a team, North Dakota State has been one of the worst shooting teams in the Summit League.

North Dakota State is shooting 38 percent from the field, which is seventh out of nine in the Summit, and 25 percent from beyond the three-point line, which is tied for eighth.

Despite this, junior forward Emily Dietz has been one of the most efficient shooters and one of the best rebounders in the league as well. Dietz is shooting 56.7 percent, which is second in the league, and scoring 12.6 points per game. Dietz is also third in the league in rebounds per game with 9.3.

Dietz may have the tough task of guarding one of Iowa State’s best players, sophomore forward Ashley Joens.

Joens leads the Cyclones and all Big 12 players in scoring with 23.7 points per game. In Iowa State’s 79-59 victory over the Texas Southern Tigers, Joens became the first Cyclone to ever score 30 points and 20 rebounds in a single game.

Joens also leads the Cyclones in rebounds, grabbing 11.3 per game — fifth among Big 12 players. 

Offensively, Iowa State has been better in the second half of its three games this season. The Cyclones have averaged 34 points in the first half and 42.3 points in the second.

The Cyclones are 2-1 and looking for their first road victory of the season; their last road game of the season resulted in an 86-81 loss to the Drake Bulldogs.