IX AT 50: K-State’s Ayoka Lee reflects on NCAA history-making day
June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX into law, prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX has largely been considered the springboard for high school and collegiate women’s sports to get where they are today — but the fight for equality is far from over. Every Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. leading up to the 50th anniversary of the law’s passing, 13 Sports will honor the women who changed the game for girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas.
“IX at 50: The Trailblazers of Women’s Sports in Kansas”
MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - K-State’s Jan. 23 contest against No. 14 Oklahoma was another chance for junior Ayoka Lee to go to bat with her teammates.
“Coming into this game, I wasn’t like, and I don’t think anyone is like, ‘Oh yeah, we’re just going to set a record today,’” Lee said after the game.
She had no idea she’d walk out one of the all-time greats.
“What’s another word for incredible? Outstanding, amazing, spectacular, All-American? Yes. All of those things. She was great,” Oklahoma head coach Jennie Baranczyk said.
Lee had 30 points at the end of the first half — a first in program history.
She eclipsed the 50-point mark just over a minute into the fourth quarter, surpassing Brittney Griner’s single-game Big 12 record set in 2013.
Her 61st point came with 2:53 on the clock, setting a new NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball single-game record.
“I wasn’t really thinking about like an NCAA record until I came out the game and they announced it,” Lee said. “Just hard to wrap my mind around. I don’t think it was ever like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna play basketball so I can like break all these national records,’ but it’s just like an honor. It’s a blessing.”
“There’s so much more to her than the 61 points and the 12 rebounds, but I sure like that part, too,” K-State head coach Jeff Mittie said.
A day later, Lee’s jersey and the game ball were shipped to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
“A group of us got to go out there for a three-on-three tournament and it was like, so cool just to see all like the history just in that place,” Lee said. “To think that like my jersey is gonna be in there is just crazy.”
While Lee’s name spent the week plastered across national headlines in the wake of her record-setting day, she says her focus remains on finishing the season strong.
“A lot of where my mind has been at is just like preparing for our next game,” she said. “The Big 12 isn’t an easy conference. I think it’s kind of just like, gotta keep going. Celebrate it, but then it’s kind of just back to business.”
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