Women’s basketball triumphs against Pittsburg State in exhibition game

Ayoka Lee shoots the ball during the Jan.19, 2022, game against Kansas at Bramlage Coliseum. Lee returned to the court for the first time since the end of the 2021-22 season on Nov. 3, 2023. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State women’s basketball started the season off strong with a full cast of players ready for the season. The Wildcats took down Pittsburg State 79-65 in a home exhibition game.

The first quarter for the Wildcats was the highest scoring of the night, ending 26-17. Highlight-worthy plays from center Ayoka Lee filled the quarter, her first playtime since knee surgery preemptively ended her 2022-23 season. Lee scored nine of her 20 total points in the first quarter from multiple layups off lobs over her defenders. Lee said the lobs would continue to be a factor in games because of the size difference between her and the majority of her defenders.

“I think, especially in preseason when we’re playing undersized teams, it’ll be a pretty common look for me,” Lee said. “But yeah, you’ll probably see a lot more of that.” 

The newer faces of the team saw opportunity in the second quarter to get playing experience, such as redshirt freshman guard Zyanna Walker. Walker made a jumper in the second quarter and scored six points on the night while thriving on defense, grabbing a steal in the game. 

The Gorillas outscored the Wildcats in the second quarter, closing the gap 41-34. Head coach Jeff Mittie said the team’s defense was the biggest issue during the game.

“All in all, that’s probably the area that we’re most disappointed in, that we felt like we played behind,” Mittie said. “I want to give Pitt State credit though, because they ran their dribble-drive stuff very effectively.”

The Wildcats outscored the Gorillas 38-31 in the second half as Lee and guard Gabby Gregory combined for 17 points. Outside of the starters, some role players were able to see more action on the court.

Freshman guard Taryn Sides showed promise in the last two quarters, featuring baskets from a fastbreak and a strong drive to the basket.

“I thought she did some good things; I saw her more comfortable as the game went on,” Mittie said. “I saw her make some good plays in that fourth quarter, saw her running the show better at the point guard spot, so all in all pretty solid by her.”

K-State will be at home after its 14-point exhibition victory once more at 6:30 against Presbyterian on Monday.