After taking care of business in their opening game of the season against Cleveland State the Cyclones looked to continue their winning ways against the Southern Jaguars in Hilton. These two teams faced off against each other last season with ISU coming away from the contest winning 96-55.
Iowa State struggled early on offense against Southern. The Cyclones dealt with missing layups (11) against Cleveland in their opener and had the same issue in the first quarter. The missed shots followed them outside of the arc, missing their first 9 threes until Nyamer Diew broke the cold streak by hitting on their tenth attempt. ISU made up for the missed shots by hustling on the offensive boards by racking up 9 of them. Emily Ryan would hit an and 1 layup with just four seconds left in the first to give the Cyclones a 16-12 lead heading into the second quarter.
Lexi Donarski appeared to be the only Cyclone unaffected by the shooting woes from distance, hitting 3 three-pointers in the second quarter including one right at the end of the half to answer an and 1 bucket from Southern senior Tyeniesha Metcalf. Iowa State continued its dominance on the offensive glass outrebounding Southern 12-0, and 26-12 overall heading into the half. Ashley Joens who is normally the offensive spark plug for ISU was still tied for the game lead in points with Donarski with 11 despite going 4-12 from the field and 0-5 from three. Regardless of the general feeling that Iowa State was having a poor performance on offense in the first half, they went into the break leading Southern 40-29 thanks to some aggressive play on defense.
Transfer Stephanie Soares got the first bucket for Iowa State coming out of the half, which helped get the Cyclones on the way to start pulling away from Southern. Stellar offensive performances from Emily Ryan and Lexi Donarski continued in the second half, with the two hitting back-to-back threes. The ISU lead would stretch to 16 early in the third quarter. These two followed their baskets from deep with and-1 baskets to continue the Cyclones' dominant third quarter, leading 60-39 heading into the final period.
The fourth quarter showed more of the same as we saw in the third from the Cyclones. Continuing to dominate the boards, playing hard-nosed defense and getting the ball to their playmakers. With around four minutes left in the game Coach Bill Fennelly pulled the starters to allow the ISU bench to get some solid minutes, as well as close out the game. Southern’s Aleighyah Fontenot wouldn’t go down quietly however, the sophomore guard put up a team-high 18 points for the Jaguars, 8 of which came in the fourth. However, this flurry wasn’t enough to pull them back into the game and Iowa State walked away with a 79-55 victory.
ISU got the impressive victory they were looking for but it didn’t come as easily as the scoreboard would suggest. Southern fought hard against the Cyclones and didn’t make anything easy for Iowa State. This is a testament to how talented this roster is, when an “off night” for Ashley Joens results in a 15-point 14-rebound performance, the 51st double-double of her career, good things are going to come your way. The backcourt duo of Lexi Donarski and Emily Ryan put up a fantastic display that helped put this game away. Donarski finished with game-highs in points (22) and three-pointers made (5). Ryan added in 19 points of her own and a game-high 6 assists.