Iowa State Cyclones guard Emily Ryan (11) takes a three-point shot against Troy Trojans during during the first quarter of a NCAA women’s basketball at Hilton Coliseum on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023, in Ames, Iowa. © Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA TODAY NETWORK
AMES – Emily Ryan jogged over to the scorers’ table at Hilton Coliseum late in the first quarter of Iowa State’s 105-68 win over Troy. The crowd started to cheer, and the excitement built as the Cyclones’ senior leader returned to the court for the first time after missing the first nine games of the season because of a health-related issue.
At the next dead ball, the crowd rose to its feet and gave Ryan a standing ovation. Ryan shared a moment with her team’s many freshmen, including fellow Kansas native, Addy Brown, and soaked in the moment.
A big standing ovation got Emily Ryan, as she checks in for the first time this season. pic.twitter.com/dbkyYoKNfX
— Connor Ferguson (@cfchangs9) December 17, 2023
“There were some tears,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “I think everyone loves what Emily Ryan is about as a person as a player. The way she represents this program and this university is truly spectacular. And I think our fans probably understand how hard she’s had to work to even get back to the court.”
Ryan played on a minutes restriction, or a “pitch count” as Fennelly likes to put it. She totaled five points, four rebounds and two assists in nine minutes on the floor.
Her return brought a jovial mood from teammate Nyamer Diew, who spoke about what it means during the postgame press conference.
“I seriously wouldn’t be here without Emily right now,” Diew said. “I’ve had a lot of times like the last three months with mental health struggles and stuff but Emily’s always had my back. She’s never wavered. It’s never been like, ‘Oh, I don’t know if Emily is upset with me or anything,’ — she’s just been a solid person for me. That’s just good to know when you have an entire roster to overturn. (Ryan) is just a great person – she deserves everything and better. There’s no way we can be who we are without Emily Ryan. She’s probably the best teammate and the best person, I’m going to say, on this team.”
Ryan was not made available for comment to CycloneFanatic following the game.
After Ryan entered the game, the Cyclones rolled, putting on one of their best shooting performances in the past two seasons.
Iowa State connected on 16 3-pointers as a team, and shot over 50 percent from the floor overall.
Nyamer Diew led the brigade from the 3-point line, hitting six triples in the game to finish with 20 points.
“I think it’s just the confidence that has rolled over without playing a game in a week, and just continuing to have that consistency throughout the week,” Diew said. “But then also, it was just like my teammates finding me and some of those shots I was wide open – (those shots are) gonna get knocked down. That’s what I like to do.
Audi Crooks was nearly perfect from the field, scoring 21 points in 24 minutes and adding nine rebounds.
“Every night we just try to take what they give us,” Crooks said. “Early on, I think that (Troy) knew they were a little bit outmatched, so they started bringing double teams and triple teams. Then obviously somebody’s open and when you have shooters like these, they’re going to knock them down. So just playing cohesively inside and out – that’s just kind of the name of the game.”
The Cyclones saw freshman Jalynn Bristow open things up late, as she hit three triples in the final 10 minutes and recorded a career-high 17 points.
Addy Brown had a fourth-straight double-double in what is becoming a normal type of a game for her. She recorded 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists Sunday.
Iowa State will return to the court for its final game before the holiday break on Wednesday when it faces UNI (6:30 p.m. ESPN+) at Hilton Coliseum.