By Anthony Hanson
AMES –The Iowa State women’s basketball team moved to 2-0 Monday night at Hilton Coliseum.
The fourteenth-ranked Cyclones overcame early offensive struggles to defeat South Dakota State 75 to 56.
With the win, Iowa State passed a “real test,” according to head coach Bill Fennelly.
“Even though it’s early, this is going to be a good win for us.”
Iowa State honored the 2021 NCAA tournament season just before tip, adding the program’s 19th tournament appearance to the rafters of Hilton Coliseum.
Just after tip, the Cyclones’ offensive woes continued. A more physical South Dakota State team forced Iowa State to shoot just 28.6% from the field in the first quarter. Iowa State shot 35.9% from the field on opening night against Omaha.
Iowa State forward Ashley Joens struggled to gain post position against the SDSU interior defense. Ashley Joens was held to only six points on an abysmal 1-10 shooting clip in the first half.
South Dakota State’s focus in the post opened opportunities for skip passes and outside shots for the Iowa State backcourt. Freshman Aubrey Joens netted two consecutive threes midway through the second quarter.
“That helped us a lot. We were able to get some stops on defense,” point guard Emily Ryan said. “Hilton gets really loud, and it’s a lot of fun to play in.”
Ryan capped off the 9-0 run for the Cyclones with a three-point play just after the threes from Joens.
Iowa State turned the tides offensively in the final three quarters. Led by Lexi Donarski’s 22 points, Iowa State finished the night shooting 42.4% from the field and 37.5% from three-point range.
After the halftime break, Ashley Joens added 11 points. The Wooden Award watch list forward drastically picked up the pace to shoot 67% from the field in the latter half. In the third, Iowa State took off on another run, this time for 10 unanswered.
“Basketball, as we all know, is a game of runs,” Fennelly said. The Iowa State defense allowed the Cyclones to spark scoring outbursts. Iowa State
held South Dakota State to only 33.9% from the field in the contest.
“I wouldn’t want Lexi Donarski guarding me,” Fennelly said. “Our kids compete defensively. They do.”
Donarski was tasked with playing out of position. At times, the sophomore played the four in Iowa State’s small-ball lineup.
The center position remains a question mark on the young Iowa State season. Freshman Morgan Vick earned her first career start in the middle for the Cyclones. Vick, however, would contribute only five minutes. Aubrey Joens also helped the undersized Cyclones by grabbing nine rebounds off the bench.
Filling the role of the five will be a team effort going forward, according to Fennelly, but it’s a challenge he and his squad are embracing.
Iowa State will now focus on in-state rival Drake. The Cyclones face off against the Bulldogs on Thursday in Des Moines.