Morgan Kane of Iowa State takes big opportunity for the job

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AMES – Iowa State post player Morgan Kane saw what a big opportunity she had at the end of last season. Kane, who had lined her first season at Ames and played sparingly the following season, knew she had a chance to argue for more playing time on the road with Kristin Scott injured.

“There was going to be a role that had to be filled,” Kane said.

Those games have proven to be building blocks for Kane, who is enjoying a breakthrough 2021-22 season.

The Iowa State junior redshirt scored a career-high 17 points, grabbed six rebounds and distributed three assists in the Cyclones’ 12th-ranked 78-47 win over TCU at the Hilton Coliseum on Saturday.

“I thought Mo was really good,” said Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly, “and what’s interesting is we’ve said that a lot lately.”

Iowa State Cyclones forward Morgan Kane (31) shoots around TCU Horned Frogs goaltender Tavy Diggs (13) during the third quarter of an NCAA Women's College basketball game at the Hilton Coliseum on Saturday January 8, 2022 in Ames, Iowa.

Kane has been one of the Cyclones’ biggest surprise stories this season. The 6-foot-3 forward had spent most of her career on the bench. She wore a red shirt in her debut season and averaged just 7.4 minutes per game during the 2019-20 season. But with Scott, Iowa State’s best post player a season ago, injured, Kane has seen his playing time increase, particularly in the 2020-21 season.

One of the biggest moments came in Iowa State’s final game of the season. Kane delivered big minutes in the first round of the NCAA tournament when she grabbed eight crucial rebounds, including four on the offensive end, in a loss to Texas A&M.

Previously: Iowa State women have started best in the Big 12 in almost a decade

“I enjoyed those games at the end and increased my confidence and knew I had to fill this role,” Kane said after Saturday’s win.

Those late season opportunities were exactly what Kane needed to step into the big shoes left open with Scott’s graduation. The job was seen as one of the Iowa State team’s biggest weaknesses. But it has become a silver lining for the Cyclones, thanks in large part to Kane, who has more playing time than ever before.

And, like last season, she is taking advantage of it.

Following: Iowa State women’s basketball breaks Oklahoma’s nine-game winning streak

She recorded her first career double-double against Northern Iowa this season and hit double digits scoring in all three Iowa State games on the Gulf Coast Showcase. In Saturday’s victory over TCU, Kane shot 6-7 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line in 22 minutes and 48 seconds of action.

“It’s a big day,” Fennelly said.

Here are some other thoughts on Saturday’s win.

A look at the historic start of Iowa State

Iowa State’s strong start proves the pre-season hype around the Cyclones was legitimate.

The Cyclones improved and won their seventh straight game, going 14-1 this season and 3-0 in the Big 12 Conference game. The 3-0 start is the first for Iowa State since the 2013-14 season. This team went 20-11 and made the NCAA tournament. This year’s squad, which was selected to finish tied for second in the Big 12, is on course for a big season.

“This is probably one of the best Bill teams he’s had,” said TCU head coach Raegan Pebley.

Ashley Joens is a double-double machine

The Iowa State senior registered her fourth consecutive double-double. Joens finished with a high of 21 points and took 11 rebounds. She also had four assists. Joens has 40 career double-doubles.

“She does the things the All-Americans do,” Fennelly said.

Tommy Birch, the Register’s featured sports company and reporter, has worked for the newspaper since 2008. He is the 2018 and 2020 Iowa Sports Writer of the Year. Contact him at [email protected] or 515-284-8468. Follow him on twitter @TommyBirch.

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