No. 8 Iowa State’s annual school day game went as according to plan as it could for the Cyclones, who rolled past Cleveland State in an 87-54 win.
Ashley Joens led the team in scoring, putting up 28 points and 11 rebounds in front of a crowd made up of students she’s taught in the past year.
“It was really exciting,” Joens said after playing in front of her students. “Some of them have never been to a basketball game. Some have no idea what basketball is, but they were really excited to come. When I was teaching, I used a lot of basketball references and they had no idea what I was talking about. Now, they kind of got to see it. It looked like they were having a good time.”
Lanes opened up in the zone defense Cleveland State plays to give Joens some easier looks at the bucket. In 18 minutes of court time, 24 of Joens’ 28 points came in the first half of the game.
It was a predictable result, and accordingly, it set the table for the two unfamiliar faces that will fill the rotation for the Cyclones.
Stephanie Soares got in foul trouble in the first half but still ended the game with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
“I don’t care who you’re playing,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “If you’re a Division I athlete and you’re playing a Division I game and you get 14 & 15 in 20 minutes, you’re doing something.”
Soares officially ended the game at 21 minutes on the floor, and she played eight of those minutes in the fourth quarter.
A majority of her stats accrued in the game came before the final frame, but Fennelly wants to improve Soares’ conditioning early on this year.
Fennelly said in his postgame press conference that the goal is to get Soares to 20 minutes per game and have her work her way into that number. Getting 21 on Monday certainly helps.
However, the skillset might be more than enough in seeing improvement early this season.
“Steph adds another level, obviously,” Fennelly said. “We have someone that can block a couple of shots, and that’s good. She’s adapting. She’s got a unique skill set. I’ve been here a long time, and we’ve never had someone like that, ever. I think she’s shown in two games the unique ability she has at both ends of the floor.”
Denae Fritz, who sat out for all but three games a season ago with an injury, nearly tallied a double-double as well.
Fritz posted nine points on the day and added 11 rebounds – something she prides herself on.
“What you saw today, hopefully, in Denae is someone that people are going to enjoy watching,” Fennelly said. “She is a tough kid and she’s a willing defender, too.”
So far, there haven’t been any injury issues with Fritz and the Cyclones’ rotation hasn’t been drastically affected by the pair of injuries the team has seen.
“It’s feeling really good and I love being out there,” Fritz said. “I feel like rebounds have always been one of the things I prioritize. For me I just like to keep the ball alive on offense and try to get stops on defense and help the team as much as I can.”
Beatriz Jordao and Maggie Vick each did not play in the game.
No. 8 Iowa State will return to the court on Thursday, Nov. 10, where the program will celebrate the banner dropping for its sixth Sweet 16 appearance in school history. The Cyclones will face off with Southern at 6:30 and the game will be televised on ESPN+.