It was a close game in Cedar Falls, Iowa, but the Cyclones came away with a 67-61 win over the Panthers after some balanced scoring, despite troubles beyond the arc.
Iowa State ended the first quarter behind the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), with only freshmen guards Lexi Donarski and Kylie Feuerbach on the scoring sheet, but the Cyclones were able to turn it around after scoring performances from multiple sources to give Iowa State the win.
With junior guard Ashley Joens having an off night scoring six points on 2-10 shooting from the field and 0-3 from the 3-point line, the Cyclones needed to look elsewhere for their spark on offense.
That came from freshmen guards Lexi Donarski, Kylie Feuerbach and Aubrey Joens and senior forward Kristin Scott.
Donarski, Feuerbach and Scott all were in double digits Tuesday, and Aubrey Joens was close with nine points.
Donarski led the team with 19 points on 5-9 shooting from the field and 9-9 from the free-throw line, while Scott contributed 18 points, shooting 6-13 from field goal range, 1-2 from three and 5-6 from the free-throw line.
Feuerbach, meanwhile, put up a career-high 13 points on 6-14 shooting and 1-6 from three. Aubrey Joens drained three 3-pointers for nine points on the night.
Head Coach Bill Fennelly said the new kids made plays and having two freshmen be two of the leading scorers says a lot about them and how hard they played.
After she got two early fouls, Fennelly decided to sit Ashley Joens and other players needed to step up, which Fennelly said they did.
“I thought in the first half, [Ashley Joens] was out and at one point we got up 10,” Fennelly said. “Aubrey [Joens] hit some big threes, again it was [Lexi Donarski], it was Kylie [Feuerbach], I thought we defended pretty well.”
Fennelly said they played four or five minutes with four freshmen and Scott in the game and ended the half up two, which said a lot about the young players.
Donarski said it was good to have other people step up and take initiative, especially when Ashley Joens went out, and added how much of an impact she has on the game.
“Obviously Ashley has been scoring huge numbers for us,” Donarski said. “And she impacts the game in a lot of other ways that a lot of people don’t even realize so I think it was really good to see some other people step up and take big strides forward tonight.”
Kristin Scott comes alive
Senior forward Kristin Scott is one of those players who stepped up Tuesday night.
Scott, who said she had been sick of how she has been performing lately, scored a season-high 18 points Tuesday.
Scott, who really started to come alive and make more of an impact in the second half, said she felt like she got back to her old self against the Panthers.
“Honestly this is the first game where I really felt like I was myself and I feel like I proved myself in this game,” Scott said. “I felt like me last year and it was a really good feeling.”
As a senior on the team, Scott said she knew after Ashley Joens went out early she needed to step up in order for the team to be successful.
Fennelly said Scott played exactly how the team needed her to against the Panthers.
“I thought Kristin Scott was an Iowa State senior in the second half and really took over the game for us,” Fennelly said.
Scott also recorded a double-double Tuesday night, grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds to go along with her 18 points, including seven offensive rebounds to help with second-chance points.
Against an aggressive Panther team, Scott said knowing what was on the line helped her stay aggressive to get rebounds.
“I think it was just knowing what was on the line, in-state game, down with our star player at first and just knowing what we needed to do in order to stay in the game,” Scott said. “The second-chance points really help in the end.”
Scott added that Ashley Joens sitting was a motivator for her because of how much she does for the team.
“Ash has done a lot for this team… so it was time for us to step up and show her that we have her back too and I think we all played a good part in that tonight,” Scott said.
Scott also recorded two blocks and two steals against UNI.
Despite some strong player performances, the Cyclones struggled to shoot from distance for much of the game Tuesday night.
The Cyclones’ only strong 3-point shooting came in the second quarter when they shot 43 percent (3-7) from beyond the arc.
Iowa State shot just 14.3 percent (1-7) in the first quarter, 11.1 percent (1-9) in the third quarter and 0 percent (0-2) in the final quarter in 3-point shooting.
The performance capped off a final of 20 percent from three for the Cyclones. The Panthers were 33.3 percent in 3-point shooting, going 5-15 from distance Tuesday night.
Shooting 3-pointers is something Iowa State has struggled with so far this season, as the Cyclones are shooting 26.5 percent from behind the line so far this season.
The Cyclones will look to continue their win streak when they take on Kansas State at 6 p.m. Friday at Hilton Coliseum. The game will be available to watch on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.