Needing a string of wins to try and get a home tournament game, Iowa State took the floor in Lawrence coming off a massive home win over TCU.
It was a slow start for the Cyclones which was not at all mirrored by the Jayhawks. Kansas started the game hot which would set the stage for a barn burner in the Phog. The Jayhawks seemingly couldn’t miss in the first quarter, rocketing out to an 8-3 lead in the first two minutes of the game. They’d continue their hot shooting with the Cyclones trying to just keep it close for as long as they could as the first quarter ended 26-19 in favor of the home team.
Bill Fennelly and his team continued to fight, though, as they’d close the lead down to just 3 with a minute to go in the half, but just as they’d ended the first quarter with a 3, the Jayhawks would end the half with a layup to bring their lead back up to 5 at the horn.
Joens and Fritz kept the Cyclones in it, combining for 16 points in the 2nd quarter alone, and their nights would continue to improve as the night went on.
The Cyclones came out of the break cold as Kansas extended the lead to as many as 17 in the 3rd quarter, but as is the case with this Cyclones team, despite Kansas shooting the lights out, they couldn’t quite dampen Iowa State enough. A 13-6 run over the final three and a half minutes gave the Cyclones hope as they trailed by 10 entering the final frame.
Kansas would once again get some tremendous shooting to start the quarter as once again they’d jump out in front of the Cyclones by 17 with just 5:39 to go. All hope seeming lost, the Cyclones turned to the pair that had tried to keep them in this one. Denae Fritz and Ashley Joens.
Fritz hit a 3-ball with 5:30 left in the game as Kansas forward Zsofia Telegdy committed a foul giving the Cyclones the ball back, now down 14. Joens would get a basket and the foul to cut the lead to 11 and the Cyclones were in a rhythm. After a Morgan Kane layup and Donarski 3-pointer, the Twister Sisters had roared back to suddenly being down just 6.
However, as they had all night long to this point, Kansas found baskets and free throws at just the right times, including one to answer the Donarski 3 to extend the lead back to 9. Iowa State wasn’t done just yet though. Ashley Joens and Morgan Kane would find buckets on 3-straight possessions to once again cut the lead to just 3 with 36 seconds remaining.
As Ashley Joens committed her 5th and final foul on a Kansas inbound with just under 30 seconds left, you could sense that the air that had been keeping Iowa State in this one despite Kansas scoring a season-high in points had finally run out and the Jayhawks would survive the furious 4th quarter comeback. The Jayhawks did enough in their late-game free throws to hold on to win it, 98-93 in one of the highest-scoring games of the Big 12 season.
It never feels good to lose and I hate trying to find moral victories, but this team continues to show that they’re never out of a game. Whether it’s Ashley Joens or Morgan Kane down low or whether it’s Lexi Donarski, Emily Ryan, or Denae Fritz on the perimeter, this team always fights. They’re going to need that fight as we head deeper and deeper into March.
Buckle your seatbelts Cyclone fans. March is here.
Senior night for the Twister Sisters is this Saturday as the Texas Tech Lady Raiders come to town. 3 pm at Hilton Coliseum and on ESPN +.