Lee sets NCAA record, women’s basketball blows out No. 14 Oklahoma

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Junior center Ayoka Lee during the Wildcats' 69-61 win over the Kansas Jayhawks on Jan. 19, 2022. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State junior center Ayoka Lee set the NCAA women’s basketball scoring record with 61 points en route to a 94-65 win over No. 14 Oklahoma in front of over 4,000 fans at Bramlage Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.

More impressively: Lee was 23-30 from the floor and 15-17 from the free-throw line while only playing 35 minutes. The person who held the previous record (Rachel Banham, Minnesota) needed 18 overtime points in a double-overtime game to reach 60 points.

Lee had the NCAA record with two minutes to play in the game before she was pulled.

“It’s crazy,” Lee said. “Coming into this game, I don’t think anyone thinks like that. ‘Oh, yeah, we’re just going to set a record today.’ I think it just goes back to our preparation. This wasn’t an easy scout. You knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and we just executed so well.”

For most of the game, Lee was tracking right along with the Sooner’s scoring pace by herself. Oklahoma came into the game as the second-highest scoring offense in the country.

“What’s another word for incredible?” Oklahoma head coach Jennie Baranczyk said. “Outstanding, amazing, spectacular, All-American? Yes. All of those things. She was great.”

K-State started off the game hot, feeding Lee for the first six points and 12 of the first 15. Oklahoma would not score until over halfway through the first quarter.

“The pace of this game concerned us greatly. Knowing that we would have to rest maybe a little bit more,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “We were able to make some huge runs, so there were more stoppages than normal.”

Oklahoma was able to stick around in the first quarter despite K-State’s opening 15-0 run to make it 19-11 at the end of the first.

K-State would not be denied, though. The Wildcats turned to Lee for the first six points of the second quarter before ripping off a 12-0 run in the middle of the period, stretching the lead to 24 at halftime. Lee scored 18 in the second quarter alone.

Lee’s 32 first-half points were the most in a single half in school history.

“I was not aware of the record,” Mittie said. “I did not look at the scoreboard all day to see how many points she had. I knew she had 32 at the half. I knew she was scoring it well in the second half. The first time I looked up, she had 58. My focus was on our team keeping the foot on the gas and playing well.”

In the third quarter, Lee scored 17 of the teams’ 19 points. The Sooners got the lead down to 15, but couldn’t get any closer.

Once again, it was Lee providing a spark for K-State. She helped the Wildcats stem a last-ditch comeback effort from Oklahoma and then proceeded to break the NCAA record with a layup at the 2:53 mark before being pulled from the game.

“One of the things we’ve certainly learned is if you take your foot off the gas, any team can come back,” Mittie said. “You’re playing the second-leading scoring team in the nation and one of the best three-point shooting teams in the nation.”

Perhaps lost in the shuffle of Lee’s record-breaking performance is the way K-State shut down one of the top offenses in the country. The Wildcats held a team averaging 88 points to just 65 points.

“I thought our switches were pretty solid. I thought our communication was decent. I think our communication was better than decent — it was good. I’m always wanting more,” Mittie said.

K-State switched on every player, 1-5, as part of a defensive plan concocted to neutralize the Sooner’s three-point shooting. It was Lee — according to Mittie — who wanted to switch across the board. Mittie’s only condition: don’t commit reaching fouls. She didn’t.

The Wildcats also held McPherson, Kansas-native Taylor Robertson — who holds the Big 12 record for career three-pointers made — to 19 points on just 3-7 three-point shooting.

“We knew they were a transition team,” freshman guard Jaelyn Glenn said. “So just stopping the ball as soon as possible was our best bet. Get them into running offense and then hard switches making sure we can guard the three.”

For her part, Glenn also stuffed the stat sheet. She scored eight points, grabbed 11 rebounds, dished out seven assists and stole the ball five times.

An example to show her impact: Glenn drove straight to the basket in transition for a layup and then stole the inbound pass to set up a pair of free throws for Laura Macke. The Wildcats scored four without the ball leaving their end of the court.

The Wildcats are tied for first in the Big 12 now, but their schedule doesn’t get any easier. They’ll travel to Austin, Texas, for a date with the No. 15 Texas Longhorns at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 26, with the game airing on ESPN+.

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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.