Iowa Women's Basketball

It's Ashley Joens; it's Caitlin Clark; it's Iowa State at Iowa women's basketball

This Cy-Hawk encounter has in-state star power on both sides

Iowa State guard Ashley Joens and the Cyclones visit Iowa on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)
Iowa State guard Ashley Joens and the Cyclones visit Iowa on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

IOWA CITY — Lisa Bluder made this clear, and did it quickly.

“This is not Caitlin Clark vs. Ashley Joens. It’s not that at all,” Bluder said. “It’s all about the game, getting the win, beating Iowa State.”

Yes, Clark and Joens will be front and center at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday (tipoff is 6:30 p.m.), but it’s a five-on-five women’s basketball contest — Iowa State at Iowa.

Clark, a freshman for the Hawkeyes (3-0), is the reigning Big Ten player of the week. Same for Joens, a junior for the Cyclones (2-2), in the Big 12.

Yeah, the state has produced pretty good talent recently, and Clark and Joens are right at the top. Joens was Miss Iowa Basketball for Iowa City High in 2018, Clark was crowned at West Des Moines Dowling at 2020.

“Ashley is a heck of a player, as good as there is right now,” Clark said.

Just imagine for a moment, the two of them on the same team. Clark strongly considered the Cyclones before opting for Iowa.

“They were definitely up there, for sure. They were in my top three,” Clark said. “It’s nice to have good in-state schools, and with Iowa and Iowa State, it made it easy to stay close to home.

“But I really like the style of play here, I love the coaches. It’s a perfect fit for me.”

Iowa has won four straight meetings with the Cyclones. Last year’s Hawkeye seniors — Kathleen Doyle, Makenzie Meyer and Amanda Ollinger — comprised Iowa’s first senior class since 1990 to make it a four-year sweep against ISU.

Alexis Sevillian would like to take it one step further.

“I could be 5-0,” she said, and she would be partially right. Sevillian is in her fifth year at Iowa, but redshirted as a freshman in 2016-17, so she’ll only be playing in her fourth Cy-Hawk game.

“We want to be that big fish, big sister, big brother. We have that pride.”

Iowa State’s last win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena was in 2006. Of course, Wednesday’s encounter will be played in front of about 200 family members, and that’s it.

“There should be 8,000-9,000 people for this game,” Bluder said.

So back to Joens and Clark.

Through four games, Joens’ 31.5-point rate leads the nation, and she is gathering 8.8 rebounds per contest. She is a contact magnet, hitting 35 of 37 free throws.

“She’s so explosive,” Bluder said. “She’s strong and rebounds well. You don’t stop her. One person can’t do it. you’ve got to rely on multiple people.”

Clark is 2-for-2 in weekly freshman honors by the Big Ten, and added the overall player-of-the-week tag this week. She ranks eighth in the country in scoring (26.7 ppg) and eighth in assists (7.3 per game).

The Hawkeyes are averaging 94.7 points per game. Clark is joined in double figures by Monika Czinano (21.3), McKenna Warnock (15.3) and Gabbie Marshall (11.3).

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