Iowa State wins Big 12 girls’s match for first time since 2001

M.A. VoepelESPN.com4 Minute Read

Lexi Donarski will get the ring and the hurt as Iowa State captures Big 12 title

Iowa State’s Lexi Donarksi drives to the rack and powers within the layup whereas drawing contact.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the primary time since 2001, the Iowa State Cyclones received the Big 12 girls’s basketball match, beating each the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds to do it and take the league’s computerized NCAA match bid.

It’s the third Big 12 match title for the dean of girls’s and males’s basketball coaches within the league, Bill Fennelly, who has been at Iowa State since 1995.

The No. 3-seeded Cyclones defeated top-seeded Texas 61-51 in Sunday’s title sport at historic Municipal Auditorium. It’s the final yr for the occasion on this constructing, which opened in 1935 and hosted three of the primary 4 males’s NCAA Final Fours. Next season, the Big 12 girls will transfer just a few blocks away in downtown Kansas City to T-Mobile Center for his or her match.

But Sunday in entrance of a closely partisan Iowa State crowd — the college is positioned simply north of Kansas City, a 3½-hour drive — the Cyclones recaptured some previous glory with their present famous person. Senior Ashley Joens, who in Saturday’s semifinal over No. 2 seed Oklahoma turned the 14th NCAA Division I girls’s participant to high 3,000 factors in her profession, had 28 factors and 10 rebounds within the title sport.

In Iowa State’s three victories right here, Joens totaled 80 factors and 33 rebounds, incomes Big 12 match Most Outstanding Player honors to her league Player of the Year award. Joens, who can also be a two-time winner of the Cheryl Miller Award for the nation’s finest small ahead, stated profitable the Big 12 match topped all different accomplishments.

“Obviously I obtained the chance to come back again, and to have the ability to do it with this group and these coaches is pretty much as good because it will get,” stated Joens, who returned for a fifth season using the COVID-19 waiver. “They work as onerous as they’ll and are in a position to come out day-after-day and compete. I do not know the way a lot sleep the coaches have gotten all weekend, however they put in a variety of effort to assist put together us and get us to the place we’re right this moment.”

It was an important weekend for Joens’ entire household; her older sister, Courtney Joens, a former basketball participant at Illinois, hit a halfcourt shot in a halftime contest to win $6,600 in fuel cash.

“I believe she ought to give me 50% of the cash as a result of I’m the one motive she’s right here,” Joens joked.

Joens was additionally the first motive the Cyclones obtained this far. She has averaged 20 factors or extra the final 4 seasons. And when Iowa State misplaced 6-foot-6 heart Stephanie Soares for the season to a knee harm in January, Joens needed to step ahead much more.

She obtained nice help from the Cyclones’ backcourt of Emily Ryan and Lexi Donarski, who together with Joens had been in a position to navigate Texas’ suffocating stress protection. During the common season, the Longhorns pressured groups into practically 21 turnovers per sport, however Iowa State had simply eight on Sunday.

“It’s actually onerous to place into phrases, clearly, however so pleased with our group, so pleased with our followers,” stated Fennelly, whose program additionally received the Big 12 match in 2000 and have been to the NCAA Elite Eight twice. “These are moments that they will bear in mind. Not simply profitable, however you are going to bear in mind what this surroundings was like for his or her entire life. We beat an important group. It was an important three days for us.”

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