Thursday Night’s exhibition matchup between No. 12 Iowa State and Wisconsin-River Falls marked the start of the new season for the team, but also showed fans a new side of the Cyclones.
Getting out to a 30-6 lead early in the game, the team never looked back in route to a 99-41 win in its first appearance on the court this season.
The catch is, the team did it without the help of star player Ashley Joens. After rolling her ankle and falling awkwardly in the first minute of the game, Joens went to the locker room and didn’t return.
While she’s banged up, Fennelly didn’t think Joens’ status would be anything to worry about as the season officially starts Tuesday.
“She rolled her ankle (and) went to the training room,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “They came back and said we need to keep her out. She’s had a sore ankle, nothing that keeps her out of the game. She’s off to a rough start. We had a scrimmage on Sunday and she got clocked early.”
Fennelly wasn’t worried about it, and with the results of the game not counting the staff opted to keep her on the bench.
That allowed some players that were in front of fans at Hilton Coliseum for the first time to put up some large numbers.
Nyamer Diew lead all of the newcomers with 17 points on the night, on 8-9 shooting in the game.
“We just got to rotate those other kids and get them (minutes),” Fennelly said. “(Diew) is one of those kids that when you look at a box score after a game, you go ‘really?’ She doesn’t do anything flashy. She’s really effecient and we’ve played her in a lot of spots. She’s fitting in. She’s a big part of what we’re doing.”
Izzi Zingaro had the most eye-opening numbers of the four post players Iowa State is running in its rotation.
She ended the night with 11 points and 12 rebounds – the only player on the roster to earn more than 10 boards.
Iowa State had a massive size advantage on their Division-III opposition’s bigs, but nonetheless the play at the position pleased Fennelly.
“Obviously we had an advantage in the post,” Fennelly said. “I thought they all played well. They had some energy, went after the ball, (they did) the things that we’ve asked them to do. I think as a group when you add up the minutes, they were pretty productive.”
Across the four post players in Zingaro, Morgan Kane – who started the game – Beatriz Jordao and Maggie Vick, the group produced.
Combined they put up 19 points and 25 rebounds.
“Obviously, they’re going to play against a lot (bigger) players moving forward, but it’s got to give them a lot of confidence,” Fennelly said. “We’ve been pushing them really hard, so hopefully they all walk out of here feeling really well about how they played tonight.”
Denae Fritz added 12 points on the night, including two early 3-pointers that helped Iowa State get out to that comfortable lead.
The team started out the game shooting 4-7 from downtown. That’s never a bad thing, even if it’s an exhibition – but the 3-24 mark from that moment on is something the team won’t be able to afford during the regular season.
Things like that is what Iowa State will look to improve upon, especially as they go through the first part of its non-conference schedule.
The season officially starts Tuesday when the team faces off with Omaha during its annual school-day game tipping off at 11:00 a.m. It will be broadcasted live on ESPN+.