MANHATTAN, Kan. (K-State Sports) — K-State center and 2022 All-America candidate Ayoka Lee set the school record for points in a conference game, but the 25th-ranked Wildcats dropped their first game in over a month on a final second banked in 3-pointer by the Cyclones sending K-State to a 73-70 defeat by (9/9) Iowa State on Tuesday night in Bramlage Coliseum.
Lee finished with 38 points on 18-of-29 shooting and added 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals. This was the fifth time in school history a K-State player scored 30 or more points against Iowa State and the first time since Brittany Chambers on Feb. 9, 2013.
“I thought she was great,” said K-State head coach Jeff Mittie. “She had a great look to her. She had a great poise to her. She was reading the things that we talked about. We actually really prepared more for a crowd around her but she wasn’t overthinking it. She was checking, she was more patient in that she checked to see where they were at and then she used the dribble more effectively to get a little bit more ground but yeah, I thought she was fantastic.
With her 18 made field goals, Lee set the school record for field goals made in a conference game, set a new career-high and ranked second for the most field goals made in a game by a Wildcat behind the record of 19 held by LeAnn Wilcox on Dec. 22, 1978.
“I think we got the ball inside when we needed to,” said Lee about her stellar night. “I think we read the defense well. I think you have to credit the guards a lot with that, their ability to get it inside, because I’m sure they had a lot of pressure from the guards defending them.”
This was Lee’s 40th career double-double and her 11th this season. The product of Byron, Minnesota, stands along in second-place for career double-doubles.
Lee’s 38 points improved her career point total to 1,321 and moved her from 20th on the K-State career scoring list to a tie for 14th with Kimberly Dietz (2004-08; 1,321).
K-State (13-3, 3-1 Big 12) held an 11-point lead, 63-52, after five straight points from freshman Brylee Glenn with 6:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Iowa State (15-1, 4-0 Big 12) cut the deficit to three, 65-62, with 3:33 left. K-State answered with a layup from Lee and a Rebekah Dallinger 3-pointer with 2:39 remaining to give K-State a 70-65 lead. Dallinger finished with seven points, three assists and two rebounds in her second career start.
The Cyclones used a 3-pointer from Morgan Kane at the top of the key with 1:11 to play to close to within one. On Iowa State’s final possession, K-State looked to have the Cyclones bottled up, by Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw banked in a 3-pointer with three seconds left to give Iowa State just their second lead of the night and first since a 3-2 advantage with 9:34 to play in the first quarter.
Iowa State was led by Ashley Joens with 27 points and eight rebounds. Espenmiller-McGraw came off the bench for 12 points.
K-State gave the Cyclones a full dose of Lee in the first quarter, as the center scored 14 of K-State’s 18 points to take an 18-15 lead at the end of the frame. Lee was 6-of-10 from the field and 2-of-3 from the foul line in the quarter.
The Wildcats continued to feed Lee in the second quarter and she continued to reward her teammates’ efforts. Lee carded 10 of K-State’s 17 points in the second frame. Jada Moore registered a pair of acrobatic layups to aid the scoring.
K-State would end the first half on a 9-0 run and for the second straight game, freshman guard Jaelyn Glenn beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer to cap the run. After Laura Macke missed a 3-pointer, Lee gathered the rebound and found Glenn standing alone on the left wing. Glenn’s 3-pointer swished through the net just before time expired to give K-State a 35-24 lead at the half.
K-State held Iowa State to 30.3 percent (10-of-33) shooting in the first half.
Iowa State used a 7-0 burst to begin the third quarter and close to within four, 35-31, with 8:04 remaining in the stanza. Ashley Joens tallied five of the seven points.
The Wildcats responded with a 7-0 run of its own to rebuild its lead to 11, 42-31, with 6:38 left in the third. An 8-2 Iowa State rally trimmed the K-State lead to five, 44-39, with 4:39 to play.
K-State did not allow the Cyclones to close any closer than five during the final five minutes of the third quarter and would end the frame with a 54-47 lead. Taylor Lauterbach would hit a elbow jumper, followed by two free throws from Brylee Glenn and a left-handed layup from Serena Sundell pushed the lead to seven.
Sundell ended the night with 11 assists, three blocks, four points and two rebounds in 40 minutes of action.
The Wildcats shot 48.4 percent (31-of-64) and tallied a season-high 27 assists. The 27 assists were the most by a K-State team since Dec. 3, 2019, when the Wildcats handed out 30 assists against UIW.
Iowa State shot 44.6 percent (29-of-65) from the field and were 12-of-23 (.522) from 3-point range.
K-State will make a quick trip to Lubbock, Texas, this weekend, as the Wildcats will face Texas Tech on Saturday at 2 p.m. Saturday’s game will be available on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. The game will also be available on the K-State Sports Network and for free at kstatesports.com and for free on the K-State Sports app.
What They Said
JEFF MITTIE, HEAD COACH
“Well, it was a heck of a basketball game. I think both teams going toe-to-toe most of the night. Obviously, it really hurts when you have the leads that we had but when you’re playing a team that can put up the number of threes that they put up and they average 11, you know your lead is not safe. I think this thing boils down to we did not execute as well as we needed to in the last five minutes of the game. They hit some tough shots the last five minutes of the game and they hit some good shots that went in and we have to execute better so that those good shots don’t end up being game winners as they were.”
On how the team played defensively…
“Well, I felt great the first half obviously. I didn’t like our start to the second half. That was problematic, six straight points from them. That was not what we talked about in the locker room and we’ve come out of locker rooms way better than that. I don’t know why we came out the way we did but that was not a good start. But we regrouped. I thought we let (Ashley) Joens get into the arc too much early with the dribble and it’s a play that she’s good at and it’s a play that we know she’s good at but we were on our heels a little bit. That kind of got her going and then you saw what she’s able to do in the fourth.”
On turnovers from Serena Sundell…
“Serena played 40 minutes tonight. I’m damn glad she’s our point guard. She has 11 assists, five turnovers but we’ll go to war with her every game. Yeah there’s a couple plays she’d like to have back but that’s also why we’ll go to war with her every game because she’s that kind of player. I’m really proud of her and really proud of how she played tonight.”
On Ayoka Lee’s performance…
“I thought she was great. She had a great look to her. She had a great poise to her. She was reading the things that we talked about. We actually really prepared more for a crowd around her but she wasn’t overthinking it. She was checking, she was more patient in that she checked to see where they were at and then she used the dribble more effectively to get a little bit more ground but yeah, I thought she was fantastic. And I thought she really fought for position because the one thing they were doing is they were meeting her at about 12 feet and saying you’re not going to get low and one of the things we talked about was we wanted her two feet in and get deeper. So yeah, I thought she was fantastic and I thought she, all game, was just the type of veteran that you want with this team and talking to them. I thought Laura Macke was fantastic. I know you asked me about Yokie but I want to give credit to Laura here too because they are a couple of veterans that have been through these. I thought they really were good in timeouts and really good the whole game.”
On Rebekah Dallinger…
“Well I thought Dallinger had a huge three coming out of the timeout. I told her to be ready to shoot it. What we ran coming out was, we wanted to do one of two things: get the ball to Yokie from a different angle, so that Yokie wasn’t wasting time on the first angle, setting up that play and then if they didn’t come out, Bek (Rebekah Dallinger) was ready to shoot. That was a big three. She almost had that one on our side out of bounds in front of us go about halfway down as well. I liked her confidence. I thought she really played well tonight.”
AYOKA LEE, JUNIOR CENTER
On the single coverage from Iowa State…
“Yeah, it was definitely different than past games. But also, we have a different team so it kind of made sense with our guard play. But yeah, I think in my mind it was just I have to go score and make them choose what they want to cover.”
On playing through physical play in the paint…
“Yeah I just have to keep playing. It’s one of those things that you can’t control so you just have to focus on what you can control.”
On breaking her own school record for points in a Big 12 game…
“Yeah, I think we got the ball inside when we needed to. I think we read the defense well. I think you have to credit the guards a lot with that, their ability to get it inside, because I’m sure they had a lot of pressure from the guards defending them.”
BILL FENNELLY, IOWA STATE HEAD COACH
“Obviously, that was a great game. Both teams played really, really hard. Both teams played in a way that I think both fan bases should be proud. But our kids, at halftime we said if we could make a couple shots we could get in the game. Second half, we made a lot of shots and certainly the the bank in three is one that they’ll remember, but you got to get yourself in a position to get lucky once in a while. I thought our kids played really, really hard and played a great second half.”
On the defensive adjustments…
“I thought we were a little bit better in limiting Yokie’s (Lee) positioning. She’s such a good player and our plan was to make her work for everything she got, not let them get a lot of threes off which obviously you’re playing her one on one in the post and that’s my fault and my decision, not our post players. We did help a little bit more off the wings and tried to pressure the pass a little more. She’s just so hard to guard and we did the best we could with her. But trying to keep them off the free throw line and trying to keep them off the three point line was probably just as important for us.”
On Ashley Joens’ toughness…
“We get asked that a lot back home. That’s Ashley Joens. She is such a tough minded kid, ultra competitive and what you want in a great player, and I think Ayoka Lee is the same way. They want to be in the moment. They want the ball. They can sense when maybe it’s needed even more, and we’ve been blessed to witness that from Ash for a long time.”
On Emily Ryan…
“I think obviously, there was a lot of people here. She probably gobbled up as many tickets, maybe the whole town of Claflin might have been here, I don’t know. But that’s the way Emily is. They got a lot more treats and goodies from aunts and stuff in the hotel, but I don’t know. She’s in front of family and friends, but that’s the way that kid plays every night, and we’re blessed that she’s our point guard.”
On the K-State freshmen…
“To be honest with you, I thought they were much better in person than on video. They’re tough. They’re athletic. Skilled. They remind me of our kids last year. We played a lot of freshmen guards last year, and there’s a reason that this team’s in the top 25. There’s a reason this team’s gonna win a lot of games, and it’s not just Yokie (Lee). Their guard play is really good, and they’re long. They defend. I was really impressed with all of them, especially defensively. I thought they did a great job on us, especially the first half.”