Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly on his team’s toughness following win over Oklahoma.
Des Moines Register
AMES, Ia. — As Ashley Joens stood at the foul line with 9.3 seconds remaining and the Iowa State women’s basketball team clinging to a to a two-point lead, the Cyclones star tried to focus on her shots.
Somehow, she didn’t think about the pressure-packed moment she was in or the awkwardness she felt from dislocating her shoulder earlier in the game and later having it popped back in.
“I just told myself, ‘Just like in practice, just shoot them the same way,’” Joens said.
Joens sank both free throws, which helped put the finishing touches on Iowa State’s 63-59 victory Saturday over Oklahoma before an announced crowd of 10,153 at Hilton Coliseum. Joens, who finished with 17 points, 15 rebounds and three assists, was the hero, guiding the Cyclones (14-8, 6-5 Big 12 Conference) to the finish line.
“She’s a tough, tough kid,” said Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly. “And certainly, those are games that will be in her legacy down the road coming back from that injury.”
The 6-foot sophomore has been Iowa State’s most important player this season. She entered Saturday’s showdown averaging a double-double with 21.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Joens also ranked first in the Big 12 in scoring and fourth in the nation. She was a big reason why Iowa State jumped out to a 16-12 lead after the first quarter and a 38-27 advantage at halftime.
But things quickly took a turn in the third quarter.
Joens went for a loose ball and suffered the shoulder injury with 8:35 remaining in the frame. Iowa State fans sat in silence as they watched athletic trainers come out to the court and look over Joens.
Fennelly knew things were bad when he saw Joens holding her arm as she walked back the locker room.
“When you see tears in Ashley Joens’ eyes, that’s got to hurt,” Fennelly said. “Because that kid is as tough as they come. And the look on our players’ faces was not good. They saw it. That’s usually when you know it’s bad. And you could see it.”
Joens had the shoulder popped back in by the athletic training staff and ended up only missing 2:53 of action.
But it was more than enough time to allow Oklahoma (12-11, 5-6), which had once trailed by 15, to claw back into things with a 13-4 run. When Joens returned to the bench, even Fennelly was surprised. After putting her back in, Fennelly spent an entire timeout making sure Joens was healthy enough to play.
“We were sitting there, and she had that look like she wasn’t comfortable, obviously,” Fennelly said. “I don’t know how you could be comfortable. Literally the whole timeout, I kept looking at her and talking to her. Everybody was talking and I just kept saying, ‘I need the truth.’ I said, ‘When that horn goes off, you better tell me the truth.’ And the horn went off, and she just stood up.
“I said, ‘I want to know how you feel. Yeah, I want to win this game but there’s something that’s a lot more important.’”
Joens had suffered a dislocated shoulder in club basketball before. She said she wasn’t in pain when Fennelly asked. Instead, the awkwardness of the injury was all that she felt. But she overcame it. And Iowa State needed her to.
Oklahoma, which opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run, took a 49-48 lead. Joens ended the rally with a putback layup to give the Cyclones the lead back.
Oklahoma reclaimed the lead later in the quarter with a 7-0 run. But Iowa State took it back on a 3-pointer by Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw. The Sooners, who missed their final eight field goals, were still in it until the end, though. With Oklahoma trailing 61-59, the Sooners had a pair of shots blocked by Iowa State’s Kristin Scott.
After the second, Joens was fouled and sent to the line for that clutch moment.
“It was big for her just to come back like that,” Scott said. “When I saw it happen, it was bad. Ashley’s a tough kid.”
Iowa State also got 18 points and 12 rebounds from Scott. Adriana Camber added 12 points. But the star of the day was Joens, who had her shoulder taped up after the game while she signed autographs.
“I enjoy playing,” Joens said. “So, just being able to play the whole time with this team, I just wanted to play.”
Source: Des Moines Register