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AMES — Ashley Joens will likely finish her Iowa State women’s basketball career as the program’s leading scorer.
The Cyclone senior and former Iowa City High star surpassed the 2,000-point plateau in the third quarter of No. 9 ISU’s 73-70 comeback win over Kansas State last week, and now trails only scoring standard-bearer Angie Welle (2,149 points) and Bridget Carleton (2,142 points) on that illustrious chart. Joens has 2,025 career points.
But it’s what Joens has done in every other area of the game that most impresses her head coach, Bill Fennelly.
The multi-talented forward earns numerous laurels and then refuses to rest on any of them, instead seeking out new areas to grow, contribute and thrive.
“I think a couple things,” Fennelly said recently when asked about his standout senior. “Number one, I think she passes the ball better. It’s still a work in progress and she’s seen so many double teams it’s incredible.”
Joens is averaging 2.4 assists this season, which is well above her previous high of 1.9 set in the 2019-20 season.
She dished out three or more dimes in three of the Cyclones’ first four Big 12 games — all wins that led to the team’s first 4-0 start in conference play since the 2004-05 season.
“Yeah, it’s been great so far, but you can’t be too focused on that,” Joens said recently about her ongoing array of double-doubles. “You have to continue to focus on the next game and not get too far ahead of yourself.”
She never does. Joens simply appraises every in-game situation and devises the best path forward.
Sometimes, that means she passes to an open post player or a guard on the perimeter. Sometimes, she drills a step-back 3-pointer herself, or a step-through bank shot in the paint.
“There are some kids (who) struggle and their heads go down and they’re gonna quit shooting it or whatever,” Fennelly said. “That’s not Ash’s mentality, She goes 0-for-5 and we say, ‘You’re gonna make the next one,’ she looks at you like, ‘Yeah, it’s goin' up.’ It’s not like she’s gonna quit shooting it so I’m not worried about it. She’s in the gym all the time working out. Nothing’s changed.”
Except for the depth of her game.
Joens also has worked to become a markedly better defender — a quality Fennelly wryly noted was not remotely the basis of her recruitment.
“She was a defensive liability as a freshman like most freshmen,” Fennelly said. “They can’t spell it let alone play it. They don’t care to play it. They didn’t get recruited to play defense. They got recruited because they can score, but I think Ash is figuring that out.”
She’s figured out just about everything else to become a well-rounded player, including getting to the free-throw line with regularity and tracking down key rebounds.
So Joens is much more than an elite scorer, even though that skill is what tends to define her.
She studies. She gets extra shots up. She does whatever it takes to ensure the Cyclones can continue to challenge for a Big 12 title and that — any personal records aside — is more than enough for her.
“Like Coach Fennelly always says, just play your game and we can’t let other teams take us out of our game,” said Joens, whose seventh-ranked team hosts Texas Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum. “If we follow our scouting report and play how we know how to play we’ll be just fine.”