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AMES — Ashley Joens, Iowa State’s all-time leading scorer, may or may not be playing her last regular-season game at Hilton Coliseum Monday at 6 p.m. against Baylor.
Either way, the former Iowa City High star’s legacy already is permanently etched in Cyclones lore.
But if it is Joens’ home court curtain call, she’ll likely provide No. 9 ISU (25-4, 13-3 Big 12) with a bravura performance against the fifth-ranked Bears (24-5, 13-3).
“I won’t make a decision until after the season,” said Joens, a senior and high-level WNBA prospect who could come back for a fifth season because of extra eligibility afforded to athletes because of COVID-19. “We’re just focusing on what’s at hand right now.”
That’s a huge opportunity for the Cyclones, who seek to avenge an 87-61 blowout loss to the Bears on Jan. 23 in Waco. Joens was just coming back from COVID-19 protocols in that game.
“Obviously Baylor right now might be playing as well as anyone in the country, let alone the Big 12,” said ISU head coach Bill Fennelly, whose team seeks at least a share of its first regular-season title since 2000. “They’re old. They’re big. They’re talented. They check off every box — and they beat us up pretty good down there.”
Joens scored 19 points in that game but shot below 30 percent from the field for just the second time in conference play. She’s shooting 55 percent in the past five games and 47.5 percent from 3-point range. In other words, Joens is peaking at the right time for the Cyclones, who have set the program regular-season record for overall wins.
“One thing I know is we’re gonna really have to box out and rebound,” Joens said of facing Baylor.
As for the big matchup falling on Senior Night, Joens considers it a mere coincidence. She expects to participate in the festivities — and that includes a postgame speech for the fans — even though it’s possible she may choose to return for one more season at the collegiate level.
Joens has nothing more to prove, but a lot more to accomplish as this historic season winds down.
“It will be pretty special,” said Joens, who passed Angie (Welle) Edinger to become ISU’s all-time leading scorer in the Feb. 16 loss at Texas. “Our team has come a long way and it’s been a good four years here and it’s gonna be a very special time for everyone. We’re just excited to get back at home and play in front of our fans.”