116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Ashley Joens sat alone in a hotel room, forced to watch, instead of play.
Iowa State’s soon-to-be all-time leading scorer had entered COVID-19 protocols before the Cyclones’ Jan. 19 matchup with Texas — and all she could do was helplessly stare at a flat screen as the Longhorns handed sixth-ranked ISU a 66-48 loss at Hilton Coliseum.
“I may have been yelling at the TV a little bit,” said Joens, who enters Wednesday’s 7 p.m. rematch at No. 14 Texas a mere 12 points away from breaking Angie (Welle) Edinger’s career scoring record of 2,149. “It was hard having to watch.”
That’s because Joens is a doer and a difference maker. A star player since elementary school who also is the all-time leading scorer at Iowa City High.
Now she’s poised to eclipse a 20-year-old program standard at ISU while helping her team build off its best start (21-3, 10-2 Big 12) in school history.
“It doesn’t surprise anyone,” said the Little Hawks’ longtime head coach Bill McTaggart. “I knew she was special the minute she came in as a freshman. (She’s) so humble. Just a great kid to be around.”
Joens learned to play all five positions at City High and shot nearly 60 percent from short and long range her senior season.
“She just worked her tail off and got better every year,” McTaggart said. “She was in the gym countless hours. (She) would do everything you asked of her.”
When Joens arrived in Ames as a freshman in 2018-19, Cyclones head coach Bill Fennelly asked her to emulate former standout Bridget Carleton.
“We put her locker room right next to Bridget’s,” Fennelly said earlier this season. “I just said, ‘Do what she does. Whatever she does, however she does it.’ And if you look back — and I did this after Ash’s freshman year — her stats and Bridget’s stats were eerily the same. And then I put columns of all the stuff Bridget did after that and I said to Ash, ‘All right. This is what you’re trying to get to and she slowly worked toward that.”
Joens is six points from passing Carleton for second on the all-time scoring chart.
“She was always getting in extra shots and extra work,” Joens said of Carleton. “Seeing that kind of helped show how much work you have to put in and the time that it takes.”
Edinger and her teammates established and followed the same set of grit-based principles more than 20 years ago. ISU reached the Sweet 16 twice and the Elite Eight once in her four seasons as a star post player.
Edinger, now an assistant principal at a middle school in Bismarck, N.D., is fully prepared to see her record fall — with a nudge from her 10-year-old daughter, Lily.
Monday morning before school, Edinger spoke with her daughter about the inevitable.
“I’m like, ‘You know, Lily, I think the record’s gonna get broken,’” Edinger said. “She goes, ‘Mom, you have really had it for a long time.’”
That she has — and Edinger is thrilled for Joens, because she knows from experience that record-breaking careers rarely happen without wide-ranging team success.
“I think it’s no surprise that it’s happening when it is,” said Edinger, who is also the Cyclones’ top career rebounder. “They’ve just got this unique dynamic that they bring to each game this year, which is so fun. It makes us so proud.”
“When you break a school record in scoring at this level, with the players that have been here, that's a heck of an accomplishment,” Fennelly said. “It's one that should be celebrated and will be celebrated. She's worked hard to get there. And maybe there is a little ironic twist that she didn't play against Texas last time, and now has a chance to break the record against them, but I think she's handled it pretty well.”
Better than she handled having to watch the Cyclones’ loss to the Longhorns nearly a month ago. Joens is back at center stage now, free to play, not forced to watch.
“Once you start playing, it’s all about the game, the scouting report, and what’s going on in the moment,” she said.