116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Sports / Iowa State Cyclones / Iowa State Basketball
Big 12 title shot for Joens, Iowa State
Senior reaches 3,000 points as Cyclones upset No. 14 Oklahoma in Big 12 semifinals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Call her humble, deferential or a combination of the two, but one thing is clear.
Iowa State’s Ashley Joens takes accolades and crowning achievements fully in stride — and rarely mentions herself in the process, even when gently coaxed to do so.
She’s not flippant, nor dismissive. It’s just that everything she does on the court can be traced back to a lone backyard hoop and wistful childhood dreams.
“It all goes back to when I was growing up in the backyard,” said Joens, who became the 14th player in NCAA women’s basketball history to score 3,000 points in Saturday’s 82-72 Big 12 tournament semifinal win over No. 14 Oklahoma. “You’re back there shooting, not really thinking about what you’re gonna do eventually. Obviously there was always the dream of playing college basketball, but to be able to do it here at Iowa State and to be able to do it this successfully has been a huge blessing.”
The Cyclones (21-9) play top-seeded and 15th-ranked Texas (25-8) in Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship game that will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Joens led all scorers with 22 points and broke the 3,000-point barrier with her first basket in the second half. She now has 3,009 points — or nine fewer than the great Cheryl Miller. Fittingly, Joens is the only two-time winner of the Cheryl Miller Award, which is bequeathed annually to the nation’s best small forward.
“Ash is a very hard worker,” said Cyclone teammate Nyamer Diew, who scored 19 points and went 4 of 6 from the 3-point line. “We see it day in and day out, so she’s definitely deserving of this, so congrats, Ash.”
Diew’s second-highest scoring output of her career broke a string of five straight games in which she failed to reach double figures. And speaking of being deferential, she was slated to start in the second half after shining off the bench in the first, but she demurred, insisting that senior Morgan Kane should maintain her starting slot.
“Right before the second half she walked up to me and said, ‘Coach, Mo should start. I’d rather come off the bench if that’s OK with you,’” said ISU head coach Bill Fennelly, whose team seeks its first Big 12 tournament title since 2001. “I’m like, yeah. I was a little stunned and very proud.”
Diew scored 11 of her points in the first half as the Cyclones turned an early eight-point deficit into a 42-39 halftime lead. Lexi Donarski added 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting for ISU, which is in the conference title game for the first time since 2019.
“(Diew) gives us an extra perimeter option because of the way they defend,” Fennelly said. “She hit a couple early and really had one of those games.”
The best kind. The Cyclones led by as many as 17 points in the second half, but needed to fend off a late Oklahoma charge that slashed the lead to six, at 70-64, with 4:24 left. Joens responded with a putback basket and Diew drilled her fourth 3-pointer to give ISU breathing room down the stretch.
“We feel really good right now,” Joens said. “We’re gonna get back to the hotel, get our schedule for tomorrow and just get ready to go.”
With 3,000-plus points in tow.
“You’re on a list of 14 people to ever do something,” Fennelly said. “That’s pretty impressive.”