Less than a week after breaking the single-game school scoring record, Kansas State junior center Ayoka Lee made more history Sunday.
The Wildcats’ rolled to a 76-44 win over Western Kentucky in the second game of the Preseason WNIT and Lee was, once again, nearly unstoppable, putting up 33 points on 14-of-17 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds and four steals.
The 33 points and 12 boards marked the 30th double-double of her career.
Lee’s 30-plus point game was the fifth in her career. She is one of four K-State (3-0) players who have recorded at least five 30-point games, putting her alongside Shawnda DeCamp (1993-94) and Ashley Sweat (2006-10), who also had five. Brittany Chambers (2009-13) owns the top mark in school history with six 30-point outings.
“I thought she had good timing today,” K-State head coach Jeff Mittie said. “One of the things we wanted to do was attack the rim, but when we didn’t have an attack at the rim, we wanted to get the ball into Lee before they got the help organized.”
“But I also have to give our guards credit: It’s not easy to pass into all of that traffic, so we’re fortunate that we have two really good centers who have good hands, and our team is learning as we go to find them.”
That wasn’t all.
With 8:36 to play in the second quarter, Lee scored on a layup to extend K-State’s lead to nine points. That bucket gave the talented junior 1,000 career points. Lee is the 44th Wildcat to achieve the feat.
“It was exciting, but honestly, it was like, there’s still a lot of game left,” Lee said. “We needed to keep it up. It was exciting and fun to celebrate, but we had to stay focused.”
Aside from Lee’s milestones, it was a pretty standard 30-point blowout.
The Lady Toppers (1-2) attempted a full-court press throughout most of the game, which K-State handled well. While the Wildcats ended the game with 15 turnovers, Mittie said he was encouraged by the growth he’s seen in that area over the last couple of weeks.
“While there were some sloppy things in (this game), we only had 10 turnovers going into the last six minutes, and going against a team that’s been pushing teams to 30 turnovers, that’s pretty good,” Mittie said. “I think the fact that we were aggressive early got Western Kentucky on their heels a little bit and we were able to play off of that.”
K-State led by 11 after a quarter and extended that to 22 by halftime.
The Wildcats went 0-for-8 to start the second half after a Lee layup early in the third quarter before sophomore forward Taylor Lauterbach ended the drought.
K-State shot 44.4% and 18.6% from 3 in the game, and while those percentages are not quite where Mittie would like them, he’s continued to be encouraged by the consistently high level of play he’s seen defensively.
“What I’m really pleased with is the growth that I’ve seen in not tying your defense to how well you’re playing offensively,” Mittie said. “I think we’re starting to learn to dig deep defensively. I think we’ll shoot the ball better as we go forward.”
Western Kentucky thrived offensively in the third quarter, led by freshman guard Alexis Mead, whose height was generously listed at 5-foot-5. Mead had 18 points, including nine in that third quarter.
“I felt like they were getting too many drives to the rim in certain stretches of the game,” Mittie said. “We’ve got to handle that ball screen. But (Mead) has some good quickness, she’s pretty crafty. She’s active all of the time, so if you let up at all, she’s going to find a little bit of a seam to get there.”
Overall, K-State’s defense turned in another impressive performance, holding WKU to 28.3% from the field and forcing an assist-to-turnover ratio of 5-to-22.
K-State finished the game efficiently on offense, scoring eight buckets on seven assists, which extended its lead to 38 points.
“If you look at 24 assists on 28 made baskets, that’s a terrific number,” Mittie said. “I think we’re making the right play a good amount of the time.”
Lauterbach ended the night with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting; she was the only Wildcat other than Lee in double-figures on the night.
K-State will face North Carolina A&T (0-3) at 6 p.m. Monday in the final game of the home portion of the tournament. A&T fell to Western Kentucky 86-76 on Friday and UT Martin 58-40 on Sunday.
The Wildcats finish the event Friday at No. 5 North Carolina State.
Wildcats beat UT Martin in tourney opener
The K-State women opened the Preseason WNIT versus UT Martin Friday evening and won 44-30.
It was not a landmark night for the Wildcats offensively. They shot 32.1% from the field and 11.5% (3-26 overall) from behind the arc.
However, K-State held UT Martin to 24.4% shooting and forced 14 turnovers in the game to slog out a 14 point win.
Lee had 10 points to lead all players, followed by eight for sophomore guard Rebekah Dallinger off the bench and seven for senior forward Laura Macke. Lee also had nine rebounds and three blocks.