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AMES - The Iowa State women's basketball team came into the 2020-21 season with high expectations.
The Cyclones had Ashley Joens, a unanimous first-team All-Big 12 selection a year ago, returning for her junior season and coach Bill Fennelly added his best-ever recruiting class, headlined by five-star Lexi Donarski.
Both Joens and Donarski lived up to the preseason hype.
Joens was once again a unanimous first-team All-Big 12 selection, averaging a conference-best 23.2 points per game and Donarski was named Big 12 freshman of the year, averaging 12.9 points, second on Iowa State.
The Cyclones took some bumps and bruises this year that come with starting three true freshmen and playing four total true freshmen a lot.
Of the 5,525 minutes Iowa State played this season, the freshmen accounted for nearly half with 2,542 minutes. Only Joens played more minutes than Donarski.
The Cyclones lost to Texas three times this season, including in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals. Iowa State also lost to South Dakota State earlier this season.
But Iowa State had some monumental highs as well.
The Cyclones beat then-No. 6 Baylor 76-72 and handed the Oklahoma State its first Big 12 loss of the season.
Those impressive wins have Iowa State squarely in ESPN's Charlie Creme's braketology.
Creme has Iowa State as a 7-seed playing South Dakota in the first round.
That's a good sign that Iowa State will be in the tournament when the bracket is revealed at 6 p.m. Monday (ESPN).
The Cyclones finished the regular season winning four of their last five and won their last two games by an average of 23.5 points. One of those wins was against then-No. 18 West Virginia, which the Cyclones beat by 17.
In five of its last six games, Iowa State has scored at least 80 points. Fennelly has the offense rolling with Joens and Donarski as the headliners. Now it's time to see if they can take the show on the road in the NCAA Tournament.
Iowa State women's basketball resume
' Record: 16-10
' Big 12: 12-6 (4th)
' Big 12 tournament: Lost to Texas, 84-82 (OT) in quarterfinals
' NET Ranking: 26
' Last 10: 5-5
' W-L vs. NET Quadrant 1: 4-10
' W-L vs. NET Quadrant 2: 6-0
' W-L vs. NET Quadrant 3: 5-0
' W-L vs. NET Quadrant 4: 1-0
' Best wins: Baylor (A), West Virginia (H), Oklahoma State (H)
' Worst losses: None outside Quad 1
' ESPN.com bracketologist Charlie Creme says: Iowa State is a 7 seed and will face South Dakota in the first round as part of the Hemisfair Region
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