Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women's college basketball season.
A year ago, Ashley Joens was a freshman still trying to figure out the college game and playing a secondary role to Iowa State senior Bridget Carleton, who was on her way to putting together the greatest single season in Cyclones history.
Today, Joens, nine games into her sophomore season, is carrying even more of a load than Carleton did and could be putting together an even more remarkable season.
Her 41 points in Sunday's win over Wright State were one shy of the school record and three more than the rest of her teammates combined. Joens also grabbed 13 rebounds -- eight of which came on the offensive end -- shot 12-of-23 from the field, drew 15 fouls with her physical play and made 15 of 16 shots at the free throw line on her way to being named espnW national player of the week.
With junior Kristin Scott still not at full strength after a back injury and junior Madison Wise out while dealing with migraines, Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly needs every bit of what Joens can deliver. She was on the floor for all 40 minutes on Sunday, playing much bigger than her 6-foot frame.
At this stage of the season, Joens is as important to Iowa State as any other player is to her team in the country. A comfortable lead dwindled on Sunday when Joens wasn't as effective during a third-quarter Wright State rally. She responded with 18 of those 41 points in the fourth quarter as the Cyclones held on for their seventh win, 79-71.
They weren't as fortunate on Wednesday, losing to in-state rival Iowa for the fourth straight time despite Joens' 26 points and 12 rebounds. Her shooting wasn't as efficient, making 7 of 20 field goal attempts, but she was 12-of-15 at the free throw line.
No one in the country has gotten to the line more times this season than Joens, and she's shooting 89.5 percent from there. She also ranks second nationally with her 24.4 points per game average, up from 11.7 points per game a year ago, and is shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Only once this season has Joens failed to score at least 18 points, and she had the first 30-point, 20-rebound game in Iowa State history on Nov. 19 against Texas Southern. This all despite being the focal point of opposing defenses and having barely more than a season of collegiate experience. Also considered: Chennedy Carter, Texas A&M; Elissa Cunane, NC State; Carlie Littlefield, Princeton; Kylee Shook, Louisville