Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State women's basketball freshmen improving early in season

Cyclones host Drake on Tuesday

Iowa State guard Emily Ryan during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against South Carolina, Sunday, Dec
Iowa State guard Emily Ryan during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against South Carolina, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/ Matthew Putney)

AMES — Iowa State’s four women’s basketball freshmen are beginning to find their footing.

Over the last four games Lexi Donarski, Emily Ryan, Kylie Feuerbach and Aubrey Joens have all put together an impressive string.

Iowa State (5-3) will need them to continue to improve and play well as it hosts Drake (2-4) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Hilton Coliseum (ESPN+).

Donarski has established herself as one of Iowa State’s top contributors, averaging 12.8 points per game, which is second best on the team. Over the last four games, she’s averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 rebounds.

Ryan has established herself as a pure pass-first point guard. The freshman has averaged 5.5 assists this season. The next closest is Donarski, who has averaged 1.9 assists.

Over the last four games, Ryan has kept her assist numbers the same but she has improved her turnover numbers. Ryan averaged 2.8 turnovers in Iowa State’s first four games and has averaged just two since.

In the Cyclones’ last game against Kansas State, Ryan had nine assists and just one turnover.

Feuerbach has maybe had the most substantial improvement of any freshman. She averaged 4.2 points on 30-percent shooting. In the last four games, she boosted her numbers to 11.8 points on 50-percent shooting.

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Like Ryan, Feuerbach had her most impressive game against Kansas State, scoring 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

“Kylie was incredible in the third quarter,” ISU Coach Bill Fennelly said. “We were down early in the third quarter and we won by 22 and Kylie was the one who made a couple of really good plays to get us going. Her effort in the third quarter really swung it our way and the rest of our players jumped on board.”

Last but not least is Joens. Before the season, Fennelly said Joens might be the best shooter he ever recruited. In Iowa State’s first four games, however, she shot just 23 percent from beyond in the arc. In the most recent four, she boosted that to 34 percent.

Fennelly believes the freshmen have been able to grow at their own pace because Ashley Joens, Iowa State’s best player, is able to take the pressure off them.

“Ashley is maybe the best all-around player in the country,” Fennelly said. “That’s what I keep telling our freshmen. ‘It’s really hard to play as a freshman but you’re playing alongside the best player in the country and that’s going to help you.’ Then you add Kristin Scott to that mix and that allows the freshmen to play loose.”

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