AMES — Iowa State women’s basketball freshman Ashley Joens had never been outside of the U.S. before this year.
Joens, an Iowa City High graduate, just won a gold medal in the FIBA U-18 Americas Women’s Championship in Mexico City. She was the second leading scorer for the USA, averaging 10.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.3 steals. She also served as the team’s captain, which was voted on by the coaches based on the practices before the event.
“It was a great experience,” Joens said. “To get that opportunity was huge.”
Coach Bill Fennelly was impressed by what he saw from The Gazette’s 2018 Female Athlete of the Year.
“I thought she played well and her numbers were good,” Fennelly said. “She kind of became the designated shooter for their team. One of the things I was texting with her is, ‘You want to impact success every day.’ For her, it turned out to be play hard and do the little things and when you’re open from the 3-point line, make it.
“I teased her that her free throws weren’t very good. We have to work on that. She had a part in winning a gold medal, so it was a great experience for her.”
Joens’ tour of the Americas continues as the Cyclones travel to Costa Rica on Friday. Iowa State will play three games as part of its foreign tour. Joens was in Ames for one day before the Iowa State team boards a plane to Atlanta.
But she said she isn’t tired from all the travel.
“I’m really excited to get going to Costa Rica,” Joens said.
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“Ashley got up and said, ‘Coach, I’m ready to go,’” Fennelly said. “That kid has basketball in her DNA and her blood. She’s excited to be with her teammates.”
Joens and Canada native Bridget Carleton likely won’t play much down in Costa Rica because they both just finished competing for their countries on the FIBA circuit.
Iowa State also won’t have Alexa Middleton and Meredith Burkhall available to play due to injury. They will travel with the team, though.
Fennelly’s not worried about the playing aspect of it. That’s not what players get most out of the experience.
“The biggest thing they get is chemistry,” Fennelly said. “They’re going to get to know each other better. Half of our roster is new to our team. That part gives you a jump start to what you would normally go through in September.
“You just hope you don’t get tired of each other,” he said with a laugh.
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