Iowa State Cyclones

'An embarrassment': Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly frustrated with how teams defend Ashley Joens

Cyclones drop physical game to TCU, 77-74

Iowa State Cyclones head women's basketball coach Bill Fennelly. (The Gazette)
Iowa State Cyclones head women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly. (The Gazette)

AMES — Iowa State forward Ashley Joens is used to playing physical. She said it’s how she and her sisters grew up playing.

But ISU women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly believes teams are taking it a step too far when guarding Joens.

Iowa State lost to TCU 77-74 on Wednesday in Hilton Coliseum in a physical, defensive game.

“I’ve been impressed with a lot of our players over the years and I couldn’t be more impressed than I am with Ashley,” Fennelly said. “The way she’s getting treated and the way people are guarding her is an embarrassment and she just doesn’t waver. She just keeps playing and keeps playing how she’s supposed to. I don’t know a young person that can do what she’s doing. I don’t know an adult that can do what she’s doing.

“I’m just so impressed with her and what she’s about. I feel bad for her because she’s going to have a bad back carrying this team and me. I will take no credit for what she’s doing.”

Joens shot 11 free throw attempts and drew 10 fouls against the Horned Frogs. She finished with a game-high 31 points and 15 rebounds on 10-of-18 shooting from the field and 10-of-11 shooting from the free-throw line.

Even though she drew 10 fouls, Fennelly still felt there should’ve been more.

“I want the game to be played and called the way we were told it was going to be played and called,” Fennelly said. “We were made to watch a video at the beginning of the year and that’s what I want. Maybe I’m the only one that thinks she’s getting guarded the way she is.”

Fennelly said there is a difference between guarding someone tough and hand-to-hand combat.

“I don’t think it’s fair to the kid,” Fennelly said. “In the three Big 12 games leading up to tonight, she shot just seven free throws total. I’m not the smartest guy, but that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

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“We don’t coach that way and we don’t play that way. We don’t teach hand-to-hand combat here — and that’s my fault. I need to be better at teaching that but I’m not going to do it. If they want someone else to coach the team that will teach that, they can. But I’m not doing it. I don’t believe in it.”

Joens is as even-keeled as they come.

She’s not going to let the physical play impact her performances.

“The defenses are really tough,” Joens said. “They’re getting after it and getting on me. I can’t let that affect the way I play. I just have to keep going out and play the way I know how to play.”

Outside of Joens’ impressive play, Iowa State (9-6, 1-3 Big 12) is struggling to get things going. Kristin Scott had a good game with 14 points and 13 rebounds on 6-of-9 shooting but Fennelly wants other players to step up and he said changes will be coming.

Joens and Scott will both start against Oklahoma State on Sunday but every other spot is up for grabs.

“The stuff that isn’t going well, I have to fix,” Fennelly said. “There will be changes made. We’ve tried about seven different things and now we’re going to No. 8. We’ll see what happens on the next one.”

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