Women's Basketball

WBB: Emily Ryan, Cyclones sharp in win over Drake

Emily Ryan didn’t need rebounds to get her double-double.

The Cyclones’ new permanent point guard for this season managed to find a double-double with 20 points and 10 assists in Iowa State’s 85-67 win over Drake on Tuesday.

Ryan’s breakout game comes after scoring just four points over the two games prior to Tuesday night as she finally was able to catch fire this year.

“There’s no question,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “(Ryan) is playing the position exactly the way we need her to play it.”

Fennelly had high praise for his freshman, who’s averaging 27 minutes a game.

He attributed her fast start to the season to trust from Ryan’s teammates.

“I think the other thing is, her teammates really trust her through nine games,” Fennelly said. If (Kristin Scott and Ashley Joens) get open, they know that (Ryan) is going to get them the ball. I’m not surprised that she’s doing those things, but she’s doing it with a lot of understanding of the system early on.”

Through nine games, Ryan is averaging six assists per night.

She’s also maintained a 2.35 assist-to-turnover ratio.

“(Tonight was) really satisfying,” Ryan said. “The offense starts at the point guard spot. Seeing things go right is really rewarding in that type of position.”

Ryan wasn’t the only one that got hot from the field, though.

Iowa State couldn’t miss from the 3-point line on Tuesday night – at least in the first three quarters.

“We made all 17 in the first three quarters,” Fennelly said. “Yeah, we’ve got a lot of kids that can make shots. That’s what’s been so frustrating when you look at our stats. There’s been games where (we haven’t) shot well in the second half. It’s hard to understand, but you know, shooting is contagious.”

When the Cyclones were on, they were impressive on Tuesday. Iowa State was one 3-pointer away from tying the school record for most 3-point field goals made in a game.

The team was able to net 17 of them on the night, before going cold in the fourth quarter and missing all eight attempts they put on the basket.

It was hardly a concern for the Cyclones, though.

Players didn’t know the stipulation that they were that close to tying it. They just played themselves out to a huge lead and went cold in the fourth.

Ashley Joens finished with 17 points. Her sister Aubrey Joens tallied 13. Kristin Scott had 13 of her own.

Iowa State was on, and with no exception to her last game, so was Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw.

The sophomore back from injury scored 14 points in 18 minutes in her second game back this season.

“(Espenmiller-McGraw) is a tough kid,” Fennelly said. “She loves to compete. She loves to play… When you think about a kid that’s playing 15 or 17 minutes, scoring double digit points, and only having practiced 40 or 50 minutes, it speaks to her inate ability to be a basketball player.”

It was the second-straight game that Espenmiller-McGraw put up 14 points.

At one point, the coaching staff didn’t know if she would be back this season, but her injury healed fast.

It’s given Iowa State just what they needed as they prepare to try and take conference play by storm.

“She changes our team a lot. She gives us exactly what we needed – an extra guard, an extra scorer and extra toughness. I’m really excited what she can add to our team.”

The Cyclones end the first part of their season with a 6-3 record and a 2-0 head-start to Big 12 play.

From an evaluation standpoint and a grading aspect, Fennelly said he would give his team an A.

“I’d give them an A and I’m a tough grader,” Fennelly said. Six and three against this schedule, what this team has had to do for the last five months… I’ve never seen anything like it. We tested this morning at 7 a.m., I mean… Overall, I don’t know if I could be more proud.”

Fennelly and the team hope to continue where they left off after Christmas break.

Players will go home for the holidays before returning on the night of December 27 and being tested for COVID-19 on the morning of December 28.

After that, they’ll have a few days to gear up for their next Big 12 game, a home matchup against Texas on January 3.