When Iowa State entered the locker room at halftime of their game against Texas Southern on Tuesday, the Cyclones only led by five.
Ashley Joens, however, already had a double-double.
The Iowa City native provided one of the seldom bright spots in a mostly close game that, eventually, turned into a 79-59 win for the Cyclones. She finished with 28 points on top of 20 rebounds.
“[Joens is] a hard cover,” Fennelly said. “She’s got some funk to her game. The kid knows how to score and one of the things we’ve tried to get her to do more was get to the free-throw line. She’s very comfortable with [free throws] and she’s worked really hard to it to her credit.”
The sophomore made it to the line for 18 free throws during the afternoon affair, cashing in on 16 of them.
Texas Southern had played an aggressive style on defense, allowing Joens to earn those trips frequently.
“They made the game very physical,” Fennelly said. “We had a really hard time handling the ball. At the end of the day, we had Ashley Joens and Kristin Scott and they didn’t. [I’m] happy that we found a way to get through it. Obviously, [there are] a lot of things to improve on, but that’s what these games are designed to do.”
Joens credited her teammates for her trips to the free-throw line and talked about working on rebounding in practice.
She finished with a team-high this season in 36 minutes of playing time.
“My teammates got me the ball when I was open,” Joens said. “[Texas Southern] played really aggressive and were attacking. They fouled a lot. To step up and knock them down [was good]. We [also] focused on rebounding in practice a lot. Being able to rebound can open up a lot of different things, offensively.”
Things certainly opened up offensively for the Cyclones, but it didn’t happen early on.
Iowa State started the game shooting 3-of-19 from the field in the first quarter. Joens was 0-of-8 and the Cyclones trailed 12-11 after the first 10 minutes of the game.
Iowa State would go on to shoot 19-of-37 (51%) in the remainder of the game and even had an 8-of-13 mark in the fourth quarter (61.5%).
“I think we just had to get warmed up,” junior Kristin Scott said. “There’s no excuse. You can’t [just] say it’s an 11 o’clock game. I think the big thing was that we all just kept shooting. We all know what we’re capable of and we can’t hang our heads on a few missed shots in the beginning. There’s still three quarters to go.”
The slow start and poor mark from the field, however, is a problem right now for the team.
It’s one that Fennelly is determined to get straightened out.
“We’re not a good shooting team,” Fennelly said. “We’re not. The numbers bear that. It’s frustrating for us to get some of the shots that we were getting. Our offensive flow and ability to handle the ball was not very good, and we’ve got to coach that better.”
Scott finished Tuesday’s game with 18 points and eight rebounds in just under 23 minutes of playing time.
She’s coming off of a back injury, so Iowa State is still limiting her minutes a tad, but she insisted after the game that she is good to go.
“I’m good. I’m back,” Scott said.
That’s always good news to hear for Fennelly, who says Scott will make a big difference for the team once they can get her 100% again.
The Cyclones will be back on the court again for their second road game on Friday, traveling to Fargo to face off with North Dakota State.
“If we can get her to a point where she is playing 28-30 minutes per game, our team is dramatically different,” Fennelly said. “That might be the understatement of the day.”