AMES — The semester is over for Iowa State but the lessons aren’t finished for the women’s basketball team.
Coach Bill Fennelly told his four freshmen before Sunday’s game against No. 1 South Carolina that they were about to get a graduate level class in Division I basketball.
South Carolina beat No. 23 Iowa State 83-65 at Hilton Coliseum.
“They have to understand the level that you’re at now,” Fennelly said. “The other teams are not going to feel sorry for you. That’s the No. 1 thing freshmen go through. The game has been really easy for them and then they come to college and it’s not easy. The challenge for our freshmen is that they’re playing a lot of minutes and they’re a big part of our team but they have to learn that when things aren’t going well, they have to figure out what they can do to make it better.
“It’s a tough lesson but life’s about getting tough lessons and they certainly got one today.”
Lexi Donarski was Iowa State’s second-leading scorer with 13 points, but the freshmen had half of Iowa State’s turnovers with five.
Freshman Emily Ryan had just four points on 2-of-7 shooting, Kylie Feuerbach had two points on 1-of-5 shooting and the final freshman Aubrey Joens scored three points on 1-for-6 shooting.
Iowa State (2-2) was able to stay in the game thanks to the outstanding play of Ashley Joens.
The elder Joens carried the Cyclones, scoring 32 points in 31 minutes. She added five rebounds and a steal against the Gamecocks (4-1).
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“If there’s a better player in the country, somebody better call me and tell me,” Fennelly said. “When you look at what she’s doing against the No. 1 team in the country and the athleticism and defensive intensity of that team — and if you’re honest, she’s kind of doing it on her own. She’s not getting a ton of help.
“She’s playing at an unbelievable level. She’s as hard-nosed of a kid as I’ve ever been around. If we can make some 3-pointers and get her a little help, she could be even more efficient — if that’s even possible.”
The Cyclones combined to shoot just 5 of 27 from 3-point range. And Ashley Joens was 2 for 5 from beyond the arc, so taking her out of the equation, the rest of the team was 3 for 22.
“To see her up close, she is incredible,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said.
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