The A-Sun coaches tabbed UNF’s sophomore center Larkira Jones as the Defensive Player of the Year after she led the conference with 66 blocks on the season and grabbed 11.4 rebounds per outing during conference play. FGCU’s Karl Smesko earned the Coach of the Year award following a 17-3 league record and 24-3 overall mark for the Eagles. The Eagles, who claimed their second conference title in four years, opened the season by winning its first 14 games.
Joining McMillan on the First Team All-Conference includes ETSU’s Tara Davis, FGCU’s Shannon Murphy, UNF’s Brittany Kirkland and Campbell’s Tonisha Baker. Davis helped ETSU to the top seed in the upcoming General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Women’s Basketball Championship by leading the Lady Buccaneers in scoring, assists, steals and minutes played, while Murphy followed up her second-team selection last season by averaging a team-best 4.3 assists and 2.1 steals and ranking second on the Eagles in scoring (12.3).
Kirkland led the Ospreys in scoring in 15 games this season en route to a 13.9 per game average – eighth in the A-Sun – to help UNF to a three seed in the conference tournament. The junior guard added 71 assists and 33 steals on the year. Baker made the jump from the A-Sun All-Freshman team last season to First Team All-Conference by averaging a team-best 11.9 PPG and ranking third in rebounds (6.2), assist (2.7) and steals (1.2).
Four newcomers adorned the A-Sun Second Team with freshmen Destiny Mitchell, Sarah Hansen and Williams joining sophomore transfer Victoria McGowan. USC Upstate’s sophomore guard Tee’Ara Copney and Jenna Bartsokas earned the distinction as the lone returning players from a season ago to make the second team. The quartet of first-year players combined to win 11 A-Sun Newcomer of the Week awards including each of the past eight weeks, while also earning two Player of the Week honors.
Before falling victim to injury at the end of the season, Mitchell averaged 14.5 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Bucs to go along with 2.2 steals and 1.6 assists. Williams, a prolific scorer, produced four 30-point games including the top-two scoring outputs of 41 against Jacksonville and 35 versus Campbell. Her 41-point game ranks in a tie for fifth-best in the nation this season and best overall by a freshman.
For the Eagles, Hansen earned top billing in both points and rebounds per game with her averages of 13.1 and 6.1, while shooting at 52 percent throughout the season. McGowan’s production this season served as a main reason why the Hatters jumped up to the second seed in the A-Sun Tournament as the sophomore led the team in scoring, assists and steals, while ranking second in rebounds.
Copney eased some of the scoring pressure on McMillan this season by averaging 14.9 points for the Spartans, while also leading the Spartans in assists and steals. Bartsokas ranked fifth in the A-Sun in scoring at 14.8 and topped the Lady Bisons team in assists (2.8) and steals (1.8).
Mitchell, Williams and Hansen all also appeared on the A-Sun All-Freshman team with Williams and Mitchell being unanimous selections. Stetson’s Sasha Sims and Belmont’s Molly Ernst joined them on the team after helping both of their teams to the conference tournament.
The 2011 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Basketball Championships get underway on Wednesday with ETSU tipping off against Lipscomb at 11 a.m. The first two days of action can be seen for free on ASun.TV, with CSS carrying the semifinals and final.
This release was provided by the Atlantic Sun office.