This Week in WAC Women's Basketball - March 11
New Mexico State senior guard Stefanie Gilbreath has been named Western Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of March 4-10. This is her first-ever WAC Player of the Week honor.
The Katy, Texas native led the Aggies to a pair of road wins, including their first-ever win over Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La. She opened the week with 18 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in an 11-point win over the Lady Techsters. Gilbreath followed it up with her fifth double-double of the season at UT Arlington, finishing with 25 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. It was her ninth game with 20 or more points this season and she completed WAC play scoring in double figures in all 18 games. For the week, Gilbreath averaged 21.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals.
Other nominees included: Denver’s Morgan Van Riper-Rose averaged 18.0 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals on the week ... Whitney Frazier of Louisiana Tech averaged 17 points and five rebounds as the Lady Techsters went 1-1 on the week ... Seattle U’s Ashley Ward hit the game-winning jumper to give the Redhawks the WAC regular-season title and finished with nine points, seven assists, five rebounds, one block and one steal in a win over Idaho ... Kiara Parker of UT Arlington averaged 9.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals as the Mavericks went 1-1 on the week ... UTSA’s Simone Young averaged 19.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists and the Roadrunners went 2-0 on the week ... Diamond Ford of Texas State averaged 20.0 points, 5.0 steals, 4.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds as the Bobcats went 1-1 on the week ... Jenna Johnson of Utah State averaged 17.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals as the Aggies went 1-1 on the week.
ALL-WAC HONORS ANNOUNCED
The 2012-13 All-WAC teams have been named, following a vote of the WAC’s 10 head coaches. Seattle U’s Kacie Sowell headlines the awards, earning WAC Player of the Year honors.
Sowell leads the WAC with 14 double-doubles this season. In league games, she led the WAC in field goal percentage (56.3), ranked third in rebounding (9.9), fifth in scoring (16.0) and eighth in steals (2.0). A two-time WAC Player of the Week, Sowell ranked fifth nationally in the most recent NCAA statistics.
Seattle U’s Sylvia Shephard earned the WAC Defensive Player of the Year honor, which was added in 2008. In 18 WAC games, the junior guard nabbed five steals three times, four steals twice and had three steals five times. Shephard is the anchor of the Seattle U defense that led the league and ranks sixth nationally in steals per game.
New Mexico State’s Stefanie Gilbreath earned WAC Newcomer of the Year honors after scoring in double figures in all 18 WAC games. In WAC games, she ranked third in the conference in scoring (19.4) and three-pointers per game (2.44), fifth in free throw percentage (83.3), ninth in blocks (0.94) and 12th in rebounding (7.3).
Seattle U head coach Joan Bonvicini was named WAC Coach of the Year after leading the Redhawks to the regular-season title with a 15-3 mark. One of 30 finalists for the Naismith College Women’s Coach of the Year, this is her fifth conference coach of the year award, as she earned the honor at Long Beach State (1981, 1984, 1986) and at Arizona (1998). Bonvicini was named Independent Coach of the Year in 2011-12 and was named NCAA Division I Coach of the Year in 1981.
Five different schools are represented on the first team. Joining Sowell are Idaho’s Alyssa Charlston, Utah State’s Devyn Christensen, San Jose State’s Ta’Rea Cunnigan and Texas State’s Diamond Ford.
The All-WAC second teamers are Gilbreath, Shephard, Whitney Frazier of Louisiana Tech, Utah State’s Jennifer Schlott and Emiko Smith of Denver.
The All-WAC third team consists of Stacey Barr of Idaho, San Jose State’s Riana Byrd, Jenna Johnson of Utah State, UTSA’s Kamra King and Brittany Lewis of Louisiana Tech.
Shephard headlines the All-Defensive team and is joined by Byrd, Johnson, Seattle U’s Daidra Brown and Denver’s Maiya Michel.
The All-Freshman team contains five players from five different teams, including Byrd, Kailey Edwards of Denver, Texas State’s Erin Peoples, Lulu Perry of Louisiana Tech and Idaho’s Christina Salvatore.
WAC STAT LEADERS
Seattle U leads the WAC in field goal percentage (41.9), three-point field goal percentage defense (28.2), rebounding defense (35.8), rebounding margin (4.6), assists (15.6) and steals (12.8). Idaho is tops in three-point field goal percentage (32.6), rebounding (42.6), blocks (4.6) and three-pointers per game (8.2). UTSA leads the WAC in scoring defense (56.7), scoring margin (4.2), field goal percentage defense (37.2) and turnover margin (3.45). Meanwhile, Utah State is tops in scoring (76.5) and free throw percentage (80.2), while Texas State leads the WAC in and assist-turnover ratio (0.89).
Texas State’s Diamond Ford leads the WAC in scoring (21.3) and minutes per game (38.0), while Utah State’s Devyn Christensen is tops in free throw percentage (92.3) and three-point field goals per game (3.17). Denver’s Emiko Smith leads the league in assists (6.34) and assist-turnover ratio (2.22), while San Jose State’s Riana Byrd is tops in rebounding (10.7) and blocks (2.17). Seattle U’s Kacie Sowell is tops in field goal percentage (56.7), while teammate Sylvia Shephard leads the league in steals (3.19). Utah State’s Makenlee Williams is tops in three-point field goal percentage (40.7).
In WAC games only, Seattle U leads the league in field goal percentage (42.8), three-point field goal percentage defense (26.2), rebounding defense (36.0), rebounding margin (5.5), assists (16.0) and steals (11.5). Idaho leads the WAC in field goal percentage defense (35.6), three-point field goal percentage (34.0), rebounding (43.4), blocks (5.22), and three-pointers per game (8.39). Utah State is tops in scoring (79.8), scoring margin (7.9), free throw percentage (81.0) and assist-turnover ratio (0.9). UTSA is tops in scoring defense (60.9) and turnover margin (4.2).
Individually in WAC games, Texas State’s Ford is tops in scoring (21.7) and minutes per game (38.72), while SJSU’s Byrd leads the league in rebounding (11.2) and blocks (2.1). Sowell leads the league in field goal percentage (56.3), while Denver’s Smith is tops in assists (6.9) and assist-turnover ratio (2.0). USU’s Christensen leads the WAC in free throw percentage (91.2), while teammate Jenna Johnson and San Jose State’s Ta’Rea Cunnigan are tops in steals (2.72). Texas State’s Ayriel Anderson leads the league in three-point field goal percentage (43.1), while Idaho’s Christina Salvatore is tops in three-pointers per game (3.0).
BONVICINI ONE OF 30 FINALISTS FOR NAISMITH COACH OF THE YEAR
Seattle U coach Joan Bonvicini is one of 30 finalists for Naismith Awards Women’s College Coach of the Year. The list of 30 will be narrowed down to the top four finalists on March 20, with the winner named on April 9. Bonvicini is currently 11th on the NCAA Division I all-time wins list. In February 2007, she became only the 18th coach in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history to reach the 600-win mark.
FORD, CUNNIGAN RANK IN TOP 10 ALL-TIME IN WAC SINGLE-SEASON SCORING
Texas State’s Diamond Ford and San Jose State’s Ta’Rea Cunnigan cracked the WAC single-season top 10 for scoring in WAC games. Ford ranks second with 391 points, while Cunnigan is sixth with 369.
UTAH STATE LEADS NATION IN FREE THROW PERCENTAGE
In NCAA statistics through March 10 games, Utah State leads the nation in free throw percentage (80.2). The Aggies have shot 70 percent or better from the line in 24 of 29 games this season.
THREE WAC PLAYERS RANK IN TOP 25 NATIONALLY IN SCORING
Three WAC players – Diamond Ford of Texas State, San Jose State’s Ta’Rea Cunnigan and Devyn Christensen of Utah State – rank in the top 25 nationally in scoring. Ford averages 21.3 points per game, good for 10th place, while Cunnigan is 18th (20.2) and Christensen is 22nd (19.8).
SALVATORE SETS IDAHO SINGLE-SEASON THREE-POINT RECORD
With her second three-pointer of the game at the 6:19 mark of the second half against UTSA on Feb. 28, Idaho freshman Christina Salvatore broke the Idaho single-season three-pointer made record of 76, set by Susan Woolf during the 1998-99 season. Salvatore now has 84 long balls this season.
TEXAS STATE’S FORD APPROACHING PROGRAM SCORING RECORD
Texas State senior guard Diamond Ford is on pace to break the program’s single-season scoring record. She currently has 617 points this season, 16 points shy of the record. With a minimum of one game remaining, Ford, who is averaging 21.3 points per game this season, should break the record.
DENVER’S SMITH SECOND AMONG ACTIVE PLAYERS IN CAREER ASSISTS
With 717 career assists, Denver’s Emiko Smith ranks second in the nation among active players in career assists. Though she doesn’t qualify because the Pioneers are only in the conference for one year, Smith’s assist total tops the WAC record of 644.
SJSU’S BYRD BREAKS ONE RECORD, APPROACHES ANOTHER
San Jose State freshman Riana Byrd set the program single-season record for blocked shots on Feb. 28 vs. UT Arlington. She now has 63 on the season, which ranks seventh on the career list. In addition, Byrd’s 310 rebounds on the year place her tied for third on the program’s single-season list and are a freshman record for the program.
EIGHT OVERTIME GAMES IN WAC PLAY, MOST THIS CENTURY
There were eight overtime games in conference play this season, the most in this century. The previous high was six in 2003-04, while there were just two overtime games during WAC play in all of 2011-12.