In a must-win situation to keep pace with the top 4 of the Big 12, Iowa State met up with Kansas in their first matchup of the season (postponed earlier in the year) in Lawrence. Kansas has had their fair share of defeats, posting a 3-9 conference record coming into the matchup, but from the get-go, they weren’t going to let the Cyclones walk through their building without a fight.
A very back-and-forth first quarter was put to bed by the Cyclones in the final 1:30 with 6 free throws (4 by Donarski, 2 from Ashley Joens.) Seeing as they’d only shot 10 and 14 in their previous 2 losses, the 8 total in the first quarter was a good thing to see. Not necessarily relying on their shotmaking capability, but muscling their way in and getting to the stripe, and this time, they knocked ‘em down. The Cyclones took advantage of their aggression by taking a 20-14 lead at the end of the first.
Kansas wasn’t about to let the Cyclones run away with the dub, however. After going up by 12 points, the Cyclones went ice cold, and Kansas roared all the way back to tie the game via a Holly Kersgieter layup with 1:44 to go in the half. The Cyclones didn’t panic though, and turned to their leader, Ashley Joens, as they often do in crunch-time situations (foreshadowing), as she knocked down 5 straight points in the final minute, giving the Cyclones a slim advantage, but an advantage nonetheless, 38-34.
In the third quarter, the Jayhawks maintained the control that they’d started at the end of the first half. The Cyclones had no answer for Ioanna Chatzileonti as she struck true on her first shots of the second half (and a free throw) in the first 2 minutes of the quarter. Just like that, the Cyclones found themselves trailing for the first time all game, 41-40. The Jayhawks held the lead through the rest of the 3rd. The teams traded baskets and stops, keeping it within 1 possession a majority of the final 5 minutes. It all ended in the Jayhawks clinging to a 2-point advantage heading into the final quarter.
Remember that Ashley Joens comment I mentioned earlier? The one about crunch-time situations? Well, it doesn’t get any more crunch-time than the final 7:00 of a tight, back-and-forth conference game on the road. With 7:02 to go, she gave the Cyclones the lead on a layup assisted by Kristin Scott (who had an excellent night of her own with 18 points.) The tandem hooked up again on the Cyclones’ following possession, in the opposite fashion, Joens finding Scott for a triple that extended the Cyclone lead to 5. As the game progressed into the final minutes, Joens continued to prove her value. She extended the lead again to 5 with 2:00 to go with a layup, and then with 11 seconds left, worked her way inside, missed the layup, stuck with it, and got the putback to give the Cyclones a 4-point advantage with almost no time left.
Kansas did get a late basket to close it to 84-82, but the Cyclones were able to burn the final seconds and secure their second win in a row. It wasn’t always pretty, but a win is a win.
The Cyclone Women’s Basketball Team will next head to Stillwater on Saturday to take on the Oklahoma State Cowgirls at 1:00 p.m.
Iowa State Cyclones