AMES — Ashley Joens no longer has to be the Iowa State offense.
She was a big part of it in Iowa State’s 90-80 win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday, scoring 30 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.
But she doesn’t need to be the whole offense and she wasn’t in Iowa State’s previous game, a 99-72 win over Texas Tech. Freshman Lexi Donarski shouldered the scoring load that game with 25 points.
Those nights of respite allow Joens to be even more lethal on nights she’s needed, like Wednesday against a team that hadn’t lost a conference game before Wednesday.
Joens went on an individual 8-0 run in the first half that extended Iowa State’s lead early in the game from 16-14 to 24-14.
When she was asked after the game if she knew she needed to step up and take over, she replied, “Yeah, I guess,” sheepishly.
The junior was needed so sorely because the Cyclones were without center Kristin Scott, Iowa State’s third-leading scorer, due to injury.
The Scott-less Cyclones were up against 6-foot-4 Natasha Mack, the best post player in the Big 12 and one of the best in the nation.
Iowa State (8-4, 4-1 Big 12) was forced to guard her with 6-foot-1 Maddie Wise for most of the night.
Mack had 34 points and 13 rebounds without a true post player guarding her for the majority of the night.
While she put up huge numbers, Fennelly was happy with the defensive effort. Iowa State fouled Mack just two times, which was important because that means she couldn’t turn two points into a three-point opportunity at the free-throw line.
“She’s a good player, and she clearly dropped a lot of points but not fouling and not giving her second-chance opportunities was big,” Wise said.
Joens’ production was needed to counter Mack’s own dominance.
But it wasn’t just Joens for Iowa State. While no other Cyclone put up the gaudy numbers Joens did, four other Cyclones scored at least nine points — including Wise with 12, including a few 3-pointers in Mack’s face.
“Our team, the one thing we’ve stressed with them, is that every single person can impact success — especially offensively,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “We have a very balanced team, now. What we worried about were depth and fouls and Maddie and Morgan battled as hard as they could against one of the best players we’ve ever played against in the post.
“Just a really solid, business-like effort. We only had seven turnovers, rebounds were OK, we shot it great, we kept them off the free-throw line. All the things you go into a game hoping to do to give yourself a chance without your second-best player, we did. That says a lot about our kids.”
Oklahoma State (9-3, 5-1) was able to trim Iowa State’s lead to five points several times during the second half, but every time the Cowgirls did, the Cyclones had an answer.
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“We had to keep scoring because we weren’t stopping them,” Fennelly said. “We won every quarter but one and we tied that quarter. In the second half, we had just one turnover. That’s really hard to do in a five-on-zero drill, let alone a Big 12 basketball game. I thought our kids were smart and efficient and that’s how we found a way to win this game.”
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