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AMES — No. 23 Iowa State didn’t call Wednesday’s women’s basketball game against Kansas a must-win, but it wasn’t a secret the Cyclones needed a momentum swing back in their favor.
After a 77-62 win over the Jayhawks, Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly admitted it was a pleasant sight watching his group get a necessary confidence boost.
“Certainly after last week you want something good to happen. I thought we played really, really well at both ends of the floor,” Fennelly said. “Happy our kids are smiling.”
There was plenty to smile about for the Cyclones on Wednesday at Hilton Coliseum, as the 3-pointers were falling and Iowa State’s best players performed like it. Iowa State shot 11-of-29 from deep for the game, including 8-for-16 in the first half. Ashley Joens put up 21 points and 11 rebounds, Lexi Donarski and Emily Ryan each had 14 points, along with Aubery Joens scoring 16 of her own.
“It was great just to get everyone involved in the offense,” Ashley Joens said. “We knocked down some big 3s and that boosted everyone’s confidence and gave us some momentum.”
Fennelly said the Cyclones’ best stepped up in a major way against Kansas, telling his team on Monday that they had a choice to make: feel sorry for yourself or get back up and fight.
A 15-point win told Fennelly what choice his group made.
“That’s the great thing about basketball and sports is the ‘sky is falling’ and we’re 16-3, losing to two really good teams,” Fennelly said.
The Cyclones improved to 17-3 overall and 6-2 in the Big 12 with the win, thanks in large part to Ryan’s steady presence at point guard. Ryan’s 14 points were complemented by her nine assists and four rebounds.
Ryan echoed Fennelly’s sentiment postgame, saying the Cyclones knew what Wednesday meant.
“As a team, it was good for us to come out and play well, especially in front of our crowd,” Ryan said.
Fennelly offered high praise for his sophomore point guard’s play after the win. Ryan had nine combined assists in her previous three games. But that’s what made Wednesday such a boost for Fennelly and the Cyclones: their best out-shined the rest.
And now, Iowa State can breathe.
“Emily Ryan is being Emily Ryan,” Fennelly said. “The kid is the ultimate competitor. She does everything we ask her to do and more.”