Women's Basketball

WBB: It’s either two or nine, Joens approaches final postseason at Iowa State

Iowa State Cyclones guard/forward Ashley Joens (24) wives to the crowd with teammates after winning 76-52 during the third quarter on a senior day at Hilton Coliseum Saturday, March 4, 2023, in Ames, Iowa. Texas Tech And Iowa State Ncaa Women’s Basketball. © Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA TODAY NETWORK

KANSAS CITY — Ashley Joens will play between two or nine more games in her Iowa State career.

“Well, I sure hope nine,” Joens said when being asked about her final postseason stretch as a Cyclone.

Iowa State opens Big 12 tournament play in the quarterfinal round, facing Baylor on Friday night at Municipal Auditorium (6:30 p.m. ESPN+).

For Joens, the stretch is about finishing the legacy that she started when she arrived in Ames.

“A lot of people talk about (how) it’s easy for people to start things, but it’s hard to finish,” Joens said. “Obviously, you don’t want to go out and end your career on not playing hard, so you just have to go out and give everything you have.”

Iowa State had expectations that were perhaps as high as ever coming into the year.

While the regular season saw losses come in different ways, it can all be forgotten with a successful run in March.

“I don’t think we’ll ever get over what happened to Steph and Beatriz,” Fennelly said. “It breaks your heart that they’re not a part of this, but I think this group has really been amazingly resilient in a lot of ways. They’ve been through a lot of stuff on the court and off… I just think it’s a tribute to what they’ve done from June on. I keep saying it – they found a way to show up.”

Iowa State has done particularly well in finding ways to win.

The group is the first Iowa State team in program history to avoid being swept by any team in conference play over the 18-game season. They’ve beaten every team at least once.

“In both games, there were moments where we had like a three to four-minute spirit where we just couldn’t guard them and we couldn’t score. I think we gave up 77 and 76 (points in those games). You just have to avoid those moments where you go three possessions (each) where you’re not scoring and they are.”

Iowa State split this season with Baylor, winning on the road and suffering a defeat to the Bears at Hilton Coliseum.

Capitalizing on key stretches will be the reason the Cyclones advance if they beat Baylor again.

“It’s a 40-minute game and it turns into who gets the best of those two or three minutes,” Fennelly said. “That always seems to change the game.”

Joens will put aside the pressure, and focus on being the player she is during that stretch.

Aside from some extra nerves and a bit more motivation, the next 40 minutes are just that for No. 24.

“You don’t want to end on a bad note,” Joens said. “You don’t want to have someone say, ‘You didn’t play hard enough.'”

“Whatever happens, happens. (I’ll) leave it all out on the court,” Joens said.