The Kansas State women’s basketball team let Central Arkansas score just one basket in the whole first quarter of its 103-40 season-opening win at Bramlage Coliseum Tuesday night.
K-State blocked a pair of shots and forced seven turnovers, including a stretch where the Sugar Bears turned the ball over on four straight possessions and six times in just under six minutes.
Meanwhile, K-State went back to the well of feeding its bigs inside. Junior Ayoka Lee fought through double and even triple-teams from the shorter Sugar Bears en route to a 12-point opening quarter.
“Tonight it was just about looking how they’re moving off of that help,” Lee said. “I think our guards did a really good job of moving when the hook came to give them open passes to them when I needed to.”
Lee outscored UCA on her own, set a school record for points in a game and set a career-high with 43 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots in 24 minutes of play.
“You don’t ever go in saying we’re going to get somebody a record,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “I didn’t know what the record was quite honestly until we got deeper into the game. … I told Serena [Sundell], I said, ‘Get the ball to Yokie this trip down.’ So she did and got the three-point play, and then I pulled Serena over when she was at the free-throw line. I said, ‘She’s got one chance to set the record, it’s the next trip.'”
The three points K-State gave up to UCA were the fewest in a quarter since a 2019 win over Oklahoma State.
K-State continued to pour the ball inside in the second quarter and, by halftime, the Wildcats had more points in the paint (24) than UCA had total points (13).
In the second half, the offense started to open up for K-State. It was still predicated on feeding the post, but by that point, the Sugar Bears had committed so many resources to stopping the Wildcat bigs that it opened up three-pointers and driving lanes on kick-out passes.
“If I feel like I don’t have the shot I want, I think our guards are good enough shooters that I shouldn’t have to force it most of the time,” Lee said.
K-State coasted through the fourth quarter with a commanding lead and continued working on different ways of creating offense and getting vital minutes for the younger contributors on the team.
Freshman Serena Sundell set the all-time record for assists in a Wildcat debut with nine. She balanced that with three points and only one turnover in 27 minutes in her first start. As a team, the Wildcats only turned the ball over six times.
“She just continues to get better, and where I think she’s made the most progress is in knowing how we need to execute and what we need to be in offensively,” Mittie said. “I’ve been impressed that she’s been able to get us into winning plays this early in her career.”
Junior Emilee Ebert chipped in 16 points and sophomore newcomer Rebekah Dallinger added 11 in her Wildcat debut.
“I just wanted to come in and kind of give some energy off the bench,” Ebert said. “Just kind of do my job and playing together with my team and watch it all come together.”
K-State is back in action at 6: 30 p.m. Friday night against UT Martin for the first battle of the Preseason WNIT at Bramlage Coliseum.