Women’s basketball coasts past another Preseason WNIT opponent

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Jumping above her opponents, junior Ayoka Lee goes for the offensive rebound during the game against UT Austin on Nov. 12, 2021. (Macey Franko | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State women’s basketball team moved to 3-0 on the year in its final home game of the Preseason WNIT with a 73-49 victory over North Carolina A&T (0-4) on Monday night inside Bramlage Coliseum.

It was the Wildcats’ second game in just over 24 hours, but they did not seem phased, powering out to a 14-2 lead before four minutes had ticked off the clock. The Ayoka Lee show was in full effect early, as she had eight of those points.

“We really pushed them hard, and I pushed them hard physically to put them into a tough spot here,” head coach Jeff Mittie said after the victory. “They’re going to get a day off tomorrow. I’m sure they’ll enjoy that. I think we came through it physically though pretty well.”

The Aggies never really had an answer for the tandem of junior Ayoka Lee and freshman Serena Sundell, who combined for 28 of the Wildcats’ 44 halftime points. Sundell reached double-figures for the first time in her young career.

“I was just trying to play the same game I’ve been playing. Looking to make the extra pass when I need to and then finding that balance being aggressive,” Sundell said. “I haven’t been shooting the ball very well, and I found the net a couple times tonight, which helps.”

K-State continued to push throughout the first half, stretching the lead to 18 early in the second quarter and ultimately to 20 by the break, despite the addition of full-court pressure from NC A&T.

The Aggies responded in the third quarter by changing up their defense. NC A&T brought out a triangle-and-two to try to limit the Wildcats’ main offensive threat. The Aggies also mixed in a 2-3 zone and some more man defense to try and throw K-State off.

“Throughout the game, coach is talking to us and telling us what he expects,” Sundell said. “You kind of read the defense, and then we have plays that we know we’re supposed to run. Just making sure you get those translated to everyone on the team.”

It seemingly worked for a time, as K-State only managed 12 points in the third quarter. However, NC A&T went ice cold as well and could not close the gap.

The Wildcats continued finding Lee throughout the fourth quarter. She finished the game nearing a triple-double with 31 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks. Her 117 points over the first four games are the most in any four-game span in school history.

“She’s been maybe overpowering some smaller players the last couple of games, but tonight she had a little more size [guarding] her,” Mittie said. “I also think our guards are really getting her the basketball, and I think we’ve got a really good passing group.”

Sundell chipped in a career-high 15 points and seven assists in her 25 minutes of play. She also pulled down four rebounds and blocked two shots.

K-State travels to Raleigh, North Carolina, to play No. 5 NC State in the final game of the Preseason WNIT on Friday, Nov. 19. No champions will be crowned in this years’ version of the tournament. The final game was predetermined, but both teams went 3-0 in their respective pods.

Friday’s game will tip-off at 6 p.m. and will air on ACC Network Extra.

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Hi! I'm Nathan Enserro, a graduate student from Olathe, Kansas, working on a Masters in Mass Communication. I graduated in spring 2020 with a Bachelor's of Science in strategic communications from K-State. This is my fourth year covering K-State sports for the Collegian.