Iowa State women’s basketball reload for next season


Jacob Rice/Iowa State Daily

Maddie Frederick hypes up the Cyclones on Feb. 28 in Hilton Coliseum against No. 5 Baylor.

Anthony Hanson

Iowa State women’s basketball left San Antonio disappointed in 2021.

The Texas A&M Aggies ended the Cyclones’ NCAA tournament run that season in an overtime thriller. Without much hesitation, head coach Bill Fennelly turned the two-point loss into bulletin board material.

“Remember the Alamo,” was printed on team t-shirts and signs in the Iowa State facility, and the 84-82 score was displayed on the scoreboard as the Cyclones practiced, the head coach repeatedly said.

Safe to say, Iowa State was motivated to reach beyond the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2022.

They did just that.

On March 20, Iowa State defeated Georgia at Hilton Coliseum to advance to the Sweet Sixteen and redeemed itself from the 2021 tournament loss. Iowa State’s future, however, was in jeopardy as star forward Ashley Joens was expected to be an early pick in the upcoming WNBA draft.

With COVID-19 granting the roster an additional year of eligibility, Cyclone fans were left expecting an important announcement regarding the core of the team.

After the dust of the offseason settles, Iowa State will return nine players for the upcoming season. Here is the recap of the biggest roster updates for the upcoming 2022-23 season.

The Big 3 Returns

Iowa State’s all-time leading scorer and two-time Cheryl Miller Award winner Ashley Joens announced she would return for a fifth season in Ames.

Three days after Iowa State fell to Creighton in the NCAA tournament, Joens announced she would not enter the field for the WNBA draft this season. Joens gave no indication of her postseason plans during the season.

“We have more that we wanna accomplish,” Joens told reporters after breaking the news to her teammates at the team’s end-of-year meeting.

Joens scored season highs in back-to-back games down the final stretch in 2021. She scored 33 points against Texas in a loss in the Big 12 tournament. Then 36 points in an NCAA first-round game against UT Arlington.

A stellar class of sophomores will join Joens and create essentially the same cast and crew for the 2022-23 campaign.

Lexi Donarski and Emily Ryan will also return to the Cyclone lineup one year older.

Ryan had 243 assists in her sophomore season, enough for the Iowa State single-season record. Ryan earned the record in Iowa State’s final home game of 2022. Ryan had nine assists against Georgia in that outing.

Lexi Donarski will also return as a junior, ensuring all three of Iowa State’s top-scoring athletes will be back to compete in the Big 12 conference.

Nyamer Diew, a transfer who contributed vital minutes for Iowa State in 2022, will be another piece of the lineup returning for Fennelly and company.

Morgan Kane and Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw will also return to the Iowa State lineup. Kane as a junior and Espenmiller-McGraw as a senior for the upcoming season.

Iowa State returned nine players from the Sweet Sixteen roster, including all five starters from the team’s final game.

Filling the gaps

Iowa State will add two major assets for 2022-23. Both will contribute in the post for Fennelly’s team.

Transferring from The Master’s University in Sao Paulo, Brazil native Stephanie Soares. The two-time NAIA Player of the Year is 6-foot-6 and her length, according to Fennelly, is something Iowa State needed on both ends of the floor.

At times, Iowa State struggled to face more physical opponents. Of Iowa State’s six regular-season losses, two came to Baylor, and three came against Texas.

Soares averaged 20.5 points during the 2021-22 season and reached the NAIA quarterfinal with the Mustangs. Soares also competed in the FIBA World Cup in February 2022.

The Cyclones will also seek a contribution from freshman Shantavia Dawkins. Dawkins is a 5-foot-10 guard from Southwest Academy in Canada.

Two transfers leave the program

The Cyclones will lose two transfers for the 2022-23 season. Sophomore Aubrey Joens announced she would enter the transfer portal following the 2022 season. Joens will play her junior season at fellow Big 12 opponent Oklahoma.

The younger sister of Ashley, Aubrey Joens, showed her ability to score from beyond the arc while at Iowa State. She finished the 2022 season with a 43 percent shooting percentage from the three-point range.

Maddie Frederick will transfer to Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for her next season. Frederick appeared in 21 games for Iowa State in 2022.