HELLOOOO KANSAS CITY! It’s the most wonderful time of the year and the Cyclones kick it all off with a date with the Baylor Lady Bears in the 3/6 matchup in the Quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament.
It was a warm welcome back to Kansas City for Ashley Joens and company as the Cyclones roared away with a 15-5 lead over the first five and a half minutes of the first quarter, but Baylor would not be shut down so easily. The Cyclones would start to cool off scoring just 4 points the remainder of the opening frame, but would still maintain a 5-point lead.
Baylor would continue the run throughout the second quarter as the Cyclones' cold shooting would come back to bite them. The hot start by Joens and Kane was quickly quashed in the quarter as Baylor would take their first lead of the game on a Caitlin Bickle layup with 5:32 to go. It was a hotly contested lead as both teams fought tooth and nail to try and take the lead into the break, where neither team found the extra jolt they needed and we headed to a 37-37 halftime draw.
The Cyclones came out of the break slightly the better team as Ashley Joens would continue her fantastic night. She and Caitlin Bickle traded blows much of the 3rd quarter, with Iowa State’s other big spark of the night, Emily Ryan, adding key buckets in key times to grow the Cyclone lead to as many as 5. Emily made a tremendous impact in driving to the basket and picking up some big free throws where she has excelled as a NINETY-TWO percent shooter. She calmly knocked down 4 in a row after Baylor had taken a 1-point lead and Joens capped off the quarter in the final minute with a tough bucket down low and the Twister Sisters took a 54-49 lead into the final 10 minutes.
It was there where Ashley Joens made sure the whole country knew who the best player in the country was.
Sitting at 17 points heading to the final stretch, Ashley Joens brushed off some of the cold shooting and went to work. She had 7 in the 4th quarter heading to the final 3 minutes, but that’s where she ensured this game ended. With the Cyclones up just two, a pair of triples on back-to-back possessions erupted the Cyclone faithful into a frenzy and iced the game. Not to be outdone, Lexi Donarski canned a third triple on the ensuing possession and the Cyclones would hold that 11-point lead until the final buzzer sounded.
It wasn’t always the prettiest of games, though let’s be real, when is it a pretty game when Iowa State and Baylor go toe-to-toe? But the Cyclones started the game how they finished, with electric offense and scoring and they’ll head to the semifinal tomorrow afternoon.
It’ll be the 3rd and final installment of The Joens Bowl tomorrow as Ashley and the Cyclones take on Aubrey and the Sooners at 2:30 p.m. in Municipal Auditorium. The game will be shown on ESPN+.