Kansas State center Ayoka Lee broke a 35-year-old record on Sunday, scoring 61 points, the most in a Division I women’s college basketball game, while leading her team to a 94-65 victory over No. 14 Oklahoma in Manhattan, Kan. She was 5 points short of scoring more than the opposing team.
“It’s crazy,” Lee, a 6-foot-6 redshirt junior, told ESPN after the game. “I thought it was just going to be another Sunday.”
The N.C.A.A. Division I single-game scoring record had been 60 points, set by Cindy Brown at Long Beach State in 1987 and tied in 2016 by the University of Minnesota’s Rachel Banham, who now plays in the W.N.B.A. for the Minnesota Lynx.
Lee broke the record by going 23 of 30 from the field (76.7 percent), and without attempting a single 3-point basket. She was also 15 of 17 from the free-throw line and notched 12 rebounds and three blocks.
“I don’t think anyone thinks, ‘Oh yeah, we’re just going to set a record today,’” Lee told reporters after the game. “You knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But we just executed so well.”
Oklahoma has the second-highest scoring offense in Division I women’s basketball and is averaging 87.1 points per game, according to Her Hoop Stats.
“We wanted to keep our foot on the gas,” Kansas State Coach Jeff Mittie said after the game.
Mittie said the only time he considered taking Lee out of the game was when there were just two and a half minutes left.
“We wanted to keep feeding her,” he said. “I was not aware of the record. I did not look at the scoreboard all day to see how many points she had.”
Considering how productive Lee has been — she is averaging 25.5 points a game this season — her coach’s nonchalance made sense. She is averaging a double-double with points and rebounds (10.9 a game), as well as 3.5 blocks per game.
“You play with her for so long that you’re like, ‘That’s just what she does,’” Jaelyn Glenn, a freshman guard for Kansas State, said after the game. “Getting the ball inside is always a goal for us, because Yokie is just supertalented.”
Lee, who goes by Yokie, is originally from Byron, Minn., a small town in the southeastern part of the state. Her dominance at Kansas State has slowly begun to attract national interest; she was recently named to the John R. Wooden Award top 25 watch list for the second consecutive year.
Her national profile has been hindered by the fact that despite being a redshirt junior, she has never played in the N.C.A.A. tournament. The last time the Wildcats qualified was in Lee’s freshman year, which she missed entirely after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament.
This season, that is likely to change. Kansas State’s record is 15-4, and it is one game out of the top spot in the Big 12. Lee’s contributions on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor are largely responsible for that shift — one that is especially monumental for a team that last appeared in the national tournament’s round of 16 20 years ago.
“There’s so much more to her than the 61 points and the 12 rebounds,” Mittie said. “But I sure like that part.”