Ayoka Lee was only minutes removed from scoring 23 points and snaring 20 rebounds, the first 20-20 game in Kansas State women’s basketball history, when the redshirt freshman found herself in the locker room, celebrating the team’s 92-74 win over Oklahoma Saturday afternoon.
Associate head coach Brian Ostermann came over and told her that she had grabbed 20 rebounds.
Or was it that she had set a school record?
“I wasn’t really listening,” Lee said, “because we were just like, ‘Yeah, we just won.’”
Finally, when things began to calm down, an athletic trainer strode over and told Lee, ‘“You just set a school record.’”
“That’s how I found out,” Lee said.
Let’s get a few milestones and statistics out of the way before getting into the details of how Lee accomplished such a monumental feat.
First, the Byron, Minnesota, native finished with 23 points on 10-for-13 shooting, and the 20 rebounds she snatched tied a program record for the most in a single game. She also added five blocks and two steals in the win.
Plus, Lee is the first player in program history with a double-double of 20 or more points and 20 or more rebounds. It also was the ninth double-double of the season for Lee, who is now averaging 15.4 points and 10.4 rebounds in her first season of collegiate competition.
“I’m the rebounding coach, and yeah,” K-State coach Jeff Mittie said with a laugh, “that surpassed my career rebound numbers.”
Lee played the best game of her career, and this type of record likely go unmatched for years. But it won’t stun anyone who’s been following Lee and the Wildcats this season. She’s averaging a double-double, for one, and she’s scored in double figures in all but one game this season — even when she’s had to leave the game with a bloody nose.
She’s 6-foot-5, which gives her a size advantage in nearly every game. She’s taken advantage, burying opponents underneath and flipping in easy shots off the glass. When those miss, it’s sometimes because she gets fouled, so she goes to the free throw line, where she’s shooting 71% this season.
That mark is third on the team among Wildcats who have attempted 20-plus free throws this season.
The point is that there are few ways to effectively shut down Lee, or at least corral her. In two of her worst games this season, when K-State lost to then-No. 3 Oregon and Oklahoma State, she still posted double-doubles.
“For a center to play well, it takes everybody to get her the basketball in a timely manner,” Mittie said. “I think she would agree with this: She was able to get the ball in better space today, which is timely. Then her offensive rebounds — she goes and gets it when people miss. So a lot of hard work on her part.”
That was all true, again, on Saturday. Six of Lee’s 20 rebounds were offensive. Those led to eight points, including four from Lee, when she stuck back her own misses.
Lee also was a plus-20 in the final box score, which means the Wildcats outscored the Sooners by 20 when she was on the floor.
That’s not bad for somebody in her first season of college ball.
Not that she knew about the record anyway.
“Yeah,” she said. “I had no idea.”