Lee sets scoring record as K-State routs Central Arkansas

Wildcats

Photo by Scott D. Weaver / K-State Athletics

MANHATTAN Kan. – Junior center Ayoka Lee added the school record for single-game scoring to her career ledger on Tuesday night, as the 2022 All-America candidate set the single-game scoring record in K-State’s 103-40 win over Central Arkansas at Bramlage Coliseum.

Lee, named to the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy Watch Lists earlier in the day, ended the night with 43 points on 17-of-25 shooting and a 9-of-12 effort from the free throw line. She also hauled in nine rebounds, blocked four shots and tied her career-high with three steals. 

The previous school record for points in a game was 42 by Brittany Chambers on March 21, 2013, against Texas Southern in the Postseason WNIT. Lee is just the third player in school history to surpass the 40-point mark in a game and the first to achieve the feat in a season-opener.

The product of Byron, Minnesota, was humble about the achievement when asked about the record.

“I think it’s an honor. I think it just goes to show the program and our commitment to it, playing basketball together and sticking to the game plan and I’ll just say it’s an honor to be with all my teammates.”

K-State head coach Jeff Mittie did not know Lee would get the record in the fourth quarter, as she was nine points from tying the mark entering the final frame.

“It was interesting because you don’t ever go in saying ‘we’re going to get somebody a record.’ You don’t go into that, and I didn’t know what the record was, quite honestly, until we got deeper into the game. I knew that Taylor (Lauterbach) wasn’t going to play all 10 minutes of the fourth. So, I knew there was going to be about a three-minute window that Yokie (Ayoka Lee) was going to have an opportunity, but it got towards the end of that window and I told Serena (Sundell), ‘Get the ball to Yokie this trip down.’ So she did and she got the three-point play. 

“And then I pulled Serena over when she was on the free throw line. I said, ‘She’s got one chance to set the school record. It’s the next trip.’ Serena goes ‘Alright.’ And because I was going to put Taylor in soon because we obviously want to get Taylor some minutes. And Yokie does it in only 23 minutes and 39 seconds tonight. That’s a crazy efficient number. But her teammates did an unbelievable job of finding her in deep places and finding her with great timing. So I give a lot of credit to her teammates and I give a lot of credit to Yokie for just playing the game the right way.”

Lee’s performance tied for the 11th-highest single-game total in Big 12 history and the most since Oklahoma’s Madi Williams scored 45 against West Virginia in January of 2021. Her 17 made field goals tied for second in school history for a single game and ranked tied for fifth in Big 12 history.

Joining Lee in double figures were junior guard Emilee Ebert with 16 points, while sophomore Rebekah Dallinger added 11 in her first game with the Wildcats. The combined 70 points by Lee, Ebert and Dallinger marks just the third time since the 1986-87 season in which three K-State players have combined to score 70 or more points in a game.

Freshman guard Serena Sundell set the school record for assists in a K-State debut with nine helpers.

K-State was a wall on defense in the first quarter. The Wildcats held the Sugar Bears to 1-of-15 shooting (.067) from the field and forced Central Arkansas into seven turnovers. K-State was led in the quarter by Ayoka Lee with 12 points as the Wildcats held a 17-3 lead after the first frame.

The 3 first quarter points allowed by K-State were the fewest in an opening quarter since January 23, 2019, when the Wildcats held Oklahoma State to three points.

The Wildcats kept the Sugar Bears off the scoreboard for the first three and a half minutes of the second quarter, as K-State increased its lead to 23-3 with 6:32 remaining.

Offensively, K-State would heat up from the field in the final six and a half minutes, as the Wildcats scored 16 points over this stretch to build a 39-13 lead at halftime. The 16 points came from six different players to build the lead. Lee led the way in the first half with 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting with five rebounds and four blocks.

The 13 points K-State allowed in the first half were the fewest allowed by the Wildcats since holding Central Arkansas to 12 in last season’s matchup in Conway, Arkansas, on December 5, 2020.

In the second half, K-State narrowly missed setting the school record for points in a half as the Wildcats registered 64 points in the final half. The school record for points in a half is 65, set against Missouri on March 3, 1984.

On Tuesday, the Wildcats carded 30 points in the third quarter and tied the school record for points in a fourth quarter with 34 on a blistering 72.2 percent effort from the field. Overall, K-State shot 53.4 percent (39-of-73) from the field.

The 103 points by K-State marked the most in a season-opener since November 23, 1990, when K-State defeated Alabama State, 103-57. This was the fifth time K-State scored over 100 points in a season-opener.

K-State has won 12 straight season-openers, including eight straight under head coach Jeff Mittie. K-State has won 28 of its last 30 home openers in Bramlage Coliseum.

K-State will host three teams in the 2021 Preseason WNIT this weekend, as UT Martin, Western Kentucky and North Carolina A&T all visit Bramlage Coliseum. Two games a day will be played on November 12, 14 and 15. The Wildcats will be in action on Friday against UT Martin at 6:30 p.m., preceded at 4 p.m., by Western Kentucky and North Carolina A&T.

Ticket packages for the 2021 Preseason WNIT begin at $10 and can be purchased by calling (800) 221-CATS or by visiting kstatesports.com/tickets.

K-State’s games in the 2021 Preseason WNIT will be broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. 

JEFF MITTIE, HEAD COACH
Opening Statement…

“I thought we executed well tonight. I thought we did. And just told the team I thought everybody had good moments tonight in this game. I really feel like that’s kind of been a theme for us the first three opportunities to play. So I’m pleased with that. I’m pleased with the fact that I think we’re making quicker reads to each other so the game has been played fairly clean. The six turnovers, I mean, we’ve had that in five-man weave in the first 10 minutes of practice three weeks ago. I just think we’re playing with a good level of confidence and a good pace right now. We know that tonight we had some advantages, but you got to take advantage of it and I think our team has done a pretty solid job of that so far.” 

On Ayoka Lee’s record and the team continuing to play hard…

“It was interesting because you don’t ever go in saying we’re going to get somebody a record. You don’t go into that, and I didn’t know what the record was, quite honestly, until we got deeper into the game. I knew that Taylor (Lauterbach) wasn’t going to play all 10 minutes of the fourth. So, I knew there was going to be about a three minute window that Yokie (Ayoka Lee) was going to have an opportunity, but it got towards the end of that window and I told Serena (Sundell), ‘Get the ball to Yoki this trip down.’ So she did and she got the three point play. And then I pulled Serena over when she was on the free throw line. I said, ‘She’s got one chance to set the school record. It’s the next trip.’ Serena goes ‘Alright.’ And because I was going to put Taylor in soon because we obviously want to get Taylor some minutes. And Yoki does it in only 23 minutes and 39 seconds tonight. That’s a crazy efficient number. But her teammates did an unbelievable job of finding her in deep places and finding her with great timing. So I give a lot of credit to her teammates and I give a lot of credit to Yoki for just playing the game the right way.”

On the bigs staying out of foul trouble…

“Yeah I’m still concerned with it. I’m still seeing things that we’ve got to clean up. I’m still seeing too many reaches from Yoki. I’m still seeing Taylor not move her feet well enough and we know that that’s going to just get more challenging as the year goes on. So those are things we’ve got to clean up. I would say our feet right now are more of a concern as an overall team. We shut off the dribble better, we shut off the straight line drives better, I’ll look at it on film. But I sure think we’re playing great team defense. I do. I feel like our team defense, we’re really helping each other, our talk is really good but those other areas, that’s the areas I would have some concern over.”  

On Serena Sundell

“Well, I think Serena, she just continues to get better and where I think she’s made the most progress is in knowing what we need to execute and what we need to be at offensively. I’ve seen tremendous growth in the last couple of weeks. We’ve known since summer that she was talented. We’ve known since summer that she loved to play. But I’ve been impressed that she’s been able to get our team into winning plays this early in her career. It’s been in practice, we’ve seen it in practice. We’ve seen our end of the shot clock plays be better. We’ve seen a consistent knowledge of how to handle the possession and you know, the example is tonight she executes to Yoki in that stretch where Yoki’s got a chance for the record and sometimes those things don’t happen for a variety of reasons. So we’ve seen good growth there.”

AYOKA LEE, JUNIOR CENTER
On setting the school record for points in a game…

“I think it’s an honor. I think it just goes to show the program and our commitment to it, playing basketball together and sticking to the game plan and I’ll just say it’s an honor to be with all my teammates.” 

On being double or triple teamed by the Central Arkansas defense…

“It’s not something that is unexpected because, just from our last game, it was kind of the same thing. But yeah, I definitely think in practice, it’s just gonna point to like pivot work for open players and tonight it was just about looking who they’re moving off of and that helped. I think our guards did a really good job of moving when the ball came to give me open passes to them and to help me score.”

EMILEE EBERT, JUNIOR GUARD
On bringing the energy from the bench…

“Yeah, I just wanted to come in and kind of give some energy off the bench. Just kind of doing my job and playing together with my team and watching it all come together.” 

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