Here is everything you need to know about the Baylor Bears and the Iowa State Cyclones in our Baylor vs. Iowa State Big 12 women’s basketball preview.
6 p.m. Central Time, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022, Hilton Coliseum, Ames, Iowa.
Records: Baylor: 23-5 (13-3 in Big 12); Iowa State: 24-4 (13-3 in Big 12).
Last game: Baylor: def. Kansas, 85-77 (Feb. 26); Iowa State: def. Texas Tech, 71-55 (Feb. 26).
Previous meeting: Baylor 81, Iowa State 67 (Jan. 23).
Player to Watch
F NaLyssa Smith: It seems like Smith is getting more dominant as the season continues. Against Kansas on Saturday she played every minute, scoring 33 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Keeping her and Queen Egbo out of foul trouble allows head coach Nicki Collen to only have to worry about fatigue when it comes to her star forward. And, since Smith seems indefatigable, well, you just have to keep her out of foul trouble.
F Ashley Joens: She is now Iowa State’s all-time leading scorer, and with each game she just adds to what could be an insurmountable total. Against Texas Tech she had a double-double — 24 points and 21 rebounds. As good a scorer as she is, not as much is said about her rebounding. Even though she plays as much outside the paint as inside, she is the Cyclones’ leading rebounder this season and defenses must commit significant resources to defend her.
The Bears seemed dead in the water after an 0-2 league start (never mind they went into a COVID-19 pause after that). But, since returning from that pause the Bears are playing like the Bears we are used to. They’ve won eight straight and 13 of 14 since the pause. Smith is playing like an All-American. Baylor now has three sharp-shooters in Ja’Mee Asberry, Jordan Lewis and Sarah Andrews, and a tremendous inside presence in Egbo. Baylor doesn’t have a lot of depth — the Bears regularly play seven — so they have to walk a line between being aggressive and avoiding foul trouble.
Joens is terrific, but the Cyclones are more than her. Emily Ryan has emerged as one of the league’s top point guards, and one of the country’s most efficient passes. Guard Lexi Donarski is a terrific outside shooter who only needs a second of daylight to get a shot away. There is Joens’ younger sister, Aubrey, who can get hot at a moment’s notice. Plus, a slate of role players that know how to handle every situation. This team is highly experienced, but their success on Monday, and the rest of the season, hinges on Ashley Joens.
Baylor has won the last 11 regular-season Big 12 titles. Iowa State hasn’t won one since 2000.
Baylor 79, Iowa State 72. Games don’t get much simpler than this. One game for the Big 12 title. Smith vs. Joens. I think Smith ends up having the better game and the Bears slip out of Ames with the hardware.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.