By Anthony Hanson
AMES – Iowa State women’s basketball cruised to a victory Sunday afternoon against Southern.
Fourteenth-ranked Iowa State led the entire game while improving to a perfect 4-0 on the season. Aubrey Joens was the leading scorer for Iowa State with 21 of Iowa State’s 96 points. The Iowa State defense proved to be strong again by holding Southern to only 55 points.
Lexi Donarski scored 15 points, Ashley dropped 16 and Nyamer Diew added 13 off the bench.
“I’m really proud of our team,” Fennelly said. “It’s a group that’s fun to watch [and] it’s a group that’s really engaged with one another.
Fennelly and his team now take a great deal of confidence into its holiday tournament after Sunday’s performance. Here are the major takeaways after the dominating win.
Iowa State has struggled mightily in the first quarter of each of its three early-season matchups. Scoring 17 at Drake, 15 against South Dakota State, and 11 against Omaha, offensive has been hard to come by at the beginning of games for Iowa State.
Against Southern, Iowa State finished the first frame-up by 14 points. Iowa State outscored its opponent in the first quarter for the first time this season.
The offensive clicked with the defensive from the opening tip Sunday afternoon. Iowa State shot 50 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc in the first quarter.
Coupled with holding the Jaguars to only 10 points on 22.2 percent shooting, Iowa State was able to control the game from start to finish. After the first, Iowa State never gave the lead in the teams’ fourth win.
Aubrey Joens is earning her spot
Aubrey Joens’ energy, effort, and offensive confidence boosted her into the starting lineup Thursday evening against Drake. Joens was a huge part of Iowa State’s win against South Dakota State, hitting three buckets from deep and adding nine rebounds.
“I think that was Aubrey Joens’ best game at Iowa State,” head coach Bill Fennelly said after that Nov. 15 contest.
The sophomore was asked to fill a bigger role in Iowa State’s first true road game facing in-state rival Drake. Joens got the start and played a career-high 36 minutes against the Bulldogs. In that matchup, Joens more than fulfilled expectations by setting more new career highs with her 18 points and five three-pointers made.
Against Southern, Joens continued her stellar early season.
Joens scored a game-high 21 points against Southern while shooting a staggering 7 of 11 from the field and adding five threes. Aubrey Joens picked up right where she left off against the Bulldogs.
“Aubrey knows she’s going to get big some minutes and we trust her,” Fennelly said. “It gives her the freedom to make a mistake.”
The most impressive part of Joens’ red-hot run is the rebounding, according to Fennelly. The sophomore grabbed nine rebounds in Sunday’s game and bumped her average up to 6.8 boards per game. At just 5’8’’ Joens’ effort and intensity are paying off across the entire box score.
The younger Joens is without a doubt solidifying her spot in the Iowa State rotation. Stepping into a bigger role is giving Joens a confidence boost that makes her dangerous from behind the arc.
“Every time I shoot it, I think it’s going to go in,” Aubrey Joens said laughing after she shot the ball 11 times.
Having a confident sharpshooter can be the x-factor Iowa State needs while facing bigger teams going forward. Aubrey Joens, in her newfound role, can be just that for Iowa State.
“It definitely helps spread the defense out more, open up a lane and definitely helps the team,” Ashley Joens said.
A balanced box score
The usual suspects led the way for Iowa State in Sunday’s matchup. But a season-high 10 Cyclones notched a point in the box score and four reached double figures.
In addition, Izzi Zingaro scored eight points and point guard Emily Ryan added 11 assists. Danae Fritz, who scored 12 points against Drake, was held out due to a leg injury for precautionary reasons.
Ten Cyclones contributed to a stellar afternoon on the boards. Iowa State outrebounded Southern 49 to 34. Every Cyclone that saw meaningful game action was able to grab a rebound.
Fennelly has continually stressed the importance of filling the gap at the center position. Without a true center in the lineup, fulfilling the role is a team effort, according to Fennelly.
Every Cyclone being able to crash the boards certainly will pay off in the long run as Iowa State will face some higher-tier competition.
Iowa State hits the court next at the Gulf Coast Showcase against Charlotte on Nov. 22.