AMES — There’s a reason why Iowa State elects to play exhibition games against opponents fans have never heard of before – and it showed during the first quarter of the team’s 90-51 exhibition win over Southwest Baptist on Thursday.
The Cyclones started off the night with some sloppy play – something to expect from a team with a lot of new faces – playing against different competition on the court together for the first time. The Cyclones scored just 16 points in the first frame and needed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to go into the first break with the lead.
“I wasn’t overly surprised with how we started,” head coach Bill Fennelly said. “You’ve got to give Southwest Baptist a lot of credit. They played very hard. A lot of the early struggles were my fault because we were subbing a lot, trying to get some of their attention on details they were missing. Overall I think we were just trying to get through that initial nervousness the first time in front of fans.”
However, the talk of Iowa State’s chemistry and talent of the new faces on campus would all come to fruition in the second half.
The Cyclones roared to a 49-point performance in the second frame, with nine second-half points coming from sophomore Kristin Scott.
“I’ve said publicly to a lot of people, ‘At the end of the year, if this team has a good year, one of the things you’ll point to is Kristin Scott’s play,’” Fennelly said. “I think what you saw tonight is what she is capable of. We have a lot of faith in her. Her versatility to play a smaller five or a stretch four is something that we’re really going to buy into.”
Scott finished the night shooting 6-8 from the field including 2-3 from long range in playing a team-high 22 minutes.
The Kasson, Minn. native averaged just 4.8 points per game during her first season under Fennelly, but that didn’t derail any long term visions that Fennelly has for her.
“She has the ability to really shoot it,” Fennelly said. “I told her at the end of the year, ‘We kept calling plays because we believe in her. I think what you saw tonight was a glimpse of what’s possible for her and her team.”
Bridget Carleton lead the Cyclones with 17 points and also topped the team’s stat sheet with six assists and two blocks.
Though, Carleton’s impressive night was capped at 22 minutes.
“We made the decision before the game that [Carleton] would play 20 or 22 minutes,” Fennelly said. “I told [my staff] at halftime, ‘I don’t care what the score is, she’s coming out in four minutes.’”
Another player that’s been under the spotlight in Iowa over the past couple of seasons made her debut in a Cyclone uniform in Iowa City native Ashley Joens.
It was the first opportunity Cyclone fans had of catching the reigning Iowa Miss Basketball in action, though it was a game that Joens probably wants back. She finished with two points on a 1-5 shooting night
“[Joens] has got a chance to be very good, obviously. I think this will be good for her. I think we have to be fair, especially the coaches, about what we expect from her as a freshman. She shot the shots she should have taken. I thought she defended fine. She didn’t have a turnover in 22 minutes.”
Though, Fennelly’s expectations for Joens remain really high. He marveled at the new Cyclones’ game and what he thinks she is capable of.
“We told her when the season started, ‘We’re not going to coach you like a freshman.’ She doesn’t want to be coached like a freshman. We’re starting her for a reason. She has the chance to be very good and she’ll be in the gym early tomorrow because I know she’s not happy going 1-5. There will be many nights when Ashley Joens is sitting up here with me [on the podium]. Not tonight, but her time is coming.”
Joens and the Cyclones will get another look at the court when they take on Winona State in another exhibition matchup on Sunday Afternoon. The game tips off at 2:00 p.m. and will be televised on Cyclones.TV.