MANHATTAN, Kansas – K-State center and 2022 All-America candidate Ayoka Lee set the school record for points in a conference game, but the 25th-ranked Wildcats dropped their first game in over a month on a final second banked in 3-pointer by the Cyclones sending K-State to a 73-70 defeat by (9/9) Iowa State on Tuesday night in Bramlage Coliseum.
Lee finished with 38 points on 18-of-29 shooting and added 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals. This was the fifth time in school history a K-State player scored 30 or more points against Iowa State and the first time since Brittany Chambers on Feb. 9, 2013.
“I thought she was great,” said K-State head coach Jeff Mittie. “She had a great look to her. She had a great poise to her. She was reading the things that we talked about. We actually really prepared more for a crowd around her but she wasn’t overthinking it. She was checking, she was more patient in that she checked to see where they were at and then she used the dribble more effectively to get a little bit more ground but yeah, I thought she was fantastic.
With her 18 made field goals, Lee set the school record for field goals made in a conference game, set a new career-high and ranked second for the most field goals made in a game by a Wildcat behind the record of 19 held by LeAnn Wilcox on Dec. 22, 1978.
“I think we got the ball inside when we needed to,” said Lee about her stellar night. “I think we read the defense well. I think you have to credit the guards a lot with that, their ability to get it inside, because I’m sure they had a lot of pressure from the guards defending them.”
This was Lee’s 40th career double-double and her 11th this season. The product of Byron, Minnesota, stands along in second-place for career double-doubles.
Lee’s 38 points improved her career point total to 1,321 and moved her from 20th on the K-State career scoring list to a tie for 14th with Kimberly Dietz (2004-08; 1,321).
K-State (13-3, 3-1 Big 12) held an 11-point lead, 63-52, after five straight points from freshman Brylee Glenn with 6:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Iowa State (15-1, 4-0 Big 12) cut the deficit to three, 65-62, with 3:33 left. K-State answered with a layup from Lee and a Rebekah Dallinger 3-pointer with 2:39 remaining to give K-State a 70-65 lead. Dallinger finished with seven points, three assists and two rebounds in her second career start.
The Cyclones used a 3-pointer from Morgan Kane at the top of the key with 1:11 to play to close to within one. On Iowa State’s final possession, K-State looked to have the Cyclones bottled up, by Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw banked in a 3-pointer with three seconds left to give Iowa State just their second lead of the night and first since a 3-2 advantage with 9:34 to play in the first quarter.
Iowa State was led by Ashley Joens with 27 points and eight rebounds. Espenmiller-McGraw came off the bench for 12 points.
K-State gave the Cyclones a full dose of Lee in the first quarter, as the center scored 14 of K-State’s 18 points to take an 18-15 lead at the end of the frame. Lee was 6-of-10 from the field and 2-of-3 from the foul line in the quarter.
The Wildcats continued to feed Lee in the second quarter and she continued to reward her teammates’ efforts. Lee carded 10 of K-State’s 17 points in the second frame. Jada Moore registered a pair of acrobatic layups to aid the scoring.
K-State would end the first half on a 9-0 run and for the second straight game, freshman guard Jaelyn Glenn beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer to cap the run. After Laura Macke missed a 3-pointer, Lee gathered the rebound and found Glenn standing alone on the left wing. Glenn’s 3-pointer swished through the net just before time expired to give K-State a 35-24 lead at the half.
K-State held Iowa State to 30.3 percent (10-of-33) shooting in the first half.
Iowa State used a 7-0 burst to begin the third quarter and close to within four, 35-31, with 8:04 remaining in the stanza. Ashley Joens tallied five of the seven points.
The Wildcats responded with a 7-0 run of its own to rebuild its lead to 11, 42-31, with 6:38 left in the third. An 8-2 Iowa State rally trimmed the K-State lead to five, 44-39, with 4:39 to play.
K-State did not allow the Cyclones to close any closer than five during the final five minutes of the third quarter and would end the frame with a 54-47 lead. Taylor Lauterbach would hit a elbow jumper, followed by two free throws from Brylee Glenn and a left-handed layup from Serena Sundell pushed the lead to seven.
Sundell ended the night with 11 assists, three blocks, four points and two rebounds in 40 minutes of action.
The Wildcats shot 48.4 percent (31-of-64) and tallied a season-high 27 assists. The 27 assists were the most by a K-State team since Dec. 3, 2019, when the Wildcats handed out 30 assists against UIW.
Iowa State shot 44.6 percent (29-of-65) from the field and were 12-of-23 (.522) from 3-point range.
K-State will make a quick trip to Lubbock, Texas, this weekend, as the Wildcats will face Texas Tech on Saturday at 2 p.m. Saturday’s game will be available on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. The game will also be available on the K-State Sports Network and for free at kstatesports.com and for free on the K-State Sports app.