SPARTANBURG, S.C. --- Three University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball players were honored by the Southern Conference coaches on the league's all-conference poll released Tuesday morning.
Junior Whitney Hood (Meridian, Miss.) and sophomore Kayla Christopher were named to the SoCon's All-Conference Team and junior Bailey Dewart (Spartanburg, S.C.) was named the recipient of the Ann Lashley Inspiration Award.
Dewart, a redshirt junior, has suffered several injuries over what had all the earmarks of a promising collegiate career. The former South Carolina High School Player of the Year sat out last year at Chattanooga after suffering a season-ending knee injury in her sophomore year. She endured grueling rehabilitation to return to the court this season. Now back in the lineup, she has started 23 games for the Lady Mocs and is fourth on the team in scoring and third in rebounding. She drained a buzzer beater at Davidson to give the Lady Mocs a crucial SoCon win. She later led Chattanooga to a win over the Wildcats with career highs in both scoring and rebounding.
Hood became the fifth straight Chattanooga player to lead the Southern Conference in scoring with 19.2 points per game and had the league's top field goal percentage, making 53.6 percent of her shots. She tallied six double-doubles this season and was named the league's Player of the Week three times. Hood scored in double figures 26 times this season including a 40-point effort in the Lady Mocs' win over Wofford on Jan. 2 at the Roundhouse. She also earned All-Conference First Team honors earlier this week by the Southern Conference Sports Media Association.
Christopher joins Hood on the all-conference team for the first honor of her career. Last season she was selected to the league's all-freshman team. Christopher led Chattanooga with 61 3-pointers and entered the Lady Mocs all-time 3-point list with 117 for her career, ranking her eighth after just two years. She scored in double figures 18 times this season and tallied a career-high 32 points in Chattanooga's home win over Furman, draining a career-best six 3-pointers in the process.
Joining the duo on the all-conference team are Player of the Year Sam Ramirez of Appalachian State and the Mountaineers' Anna Freeman named Defensive Player of the Year. Ashlen Dewart, sister of UTC's Bailey, was also selected by the league coaches to the All-Conference team. Davidson's Sophia Aleksandravicius, Elon's Ali Ford, Monique Floyd of UNCG and Samford's Emily London and Savannah Hill were also named to the team.
Ramirez finished the season first in the conference in assist-to-turnovers with a 2.1 average, while placing second in assists (4.1 apg) and steals (2.6 spg) and fourth in scoring (16.3 ppg). Ramirez helped lead the Mountaineers to a 23-5 overall record and their first regular season title since the 1995-96 season. She ranks among the elite in Appalachian State record book, as she is the all-time leader in three-pointers made, third in field goals and assists, fourth all-time in scoring with 1,494 points and fourth in career steals.
Freeman, a sophomore forward for the Mountaineers, was named the SoCon Defensive Player of the Year. The Thomasville, N.C., native., tallied 89 steals on the season and helped Appalachian State lead the conference in several defensive categories, including field goal defense (37.3), rebounding margin (+5.7), steals (13.5), turnover margin (+4.1) and defensive rebounds (27.3).
Picking up Freshman of the Year honors was Davidson's Laura Murray, who averaged 11.9 points and shot an impressive 82.8 percent from the free-throw line, which is third best in the SoCon. The guard from Harrisburg, Pa., led all freshmen in scoring, made three-pointers and free-throw percentage.
Along with Murray, the All-Freshman team included College of Charleston's Janae Smith, Georgia Southern's MiMi DuBose, UNCG's Janae' Stevenson and Western Carolina's Rena Wakama.
Appalachian State head coach Darcie Vincent was honored by her peers as Coach of the Year. In her third year at the helm, the Mountaineers won 23 games overall and 17 league contests. It was the highest league win total for the Mountaineers. Appalachian State's 11-1 record at home was the best home winning percentage in school history. Before the lone loss at home, the Mountaineers compiled an 18-game home winning streak that spanned from Jan. 12, 2010 to Feb. 19, 2011.
The Lady Mocs will hit the floor late Saturday morning to face either No. 6 UNCG or No. 11 Wofford in the quarterfinals in the Roundhouse. Call the McKenzie Arena box office for tickets at 423.266.6627 or online at GoMocs.com.