SoCon coaches select women's basketball awards
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 03/01/2016
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Mercer's Kahlia Lawrence
Courtesy: Mercer University

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Mercer sophomore Kahlia Lawrence has been named 2016 Southern Conference Player of the Year, and Bears coach Susie Gardner collected SoCon Coach of the Year honors, the conference office announced Tuesday after balloting of the league’s coaches. Chattanooga senior guard Alicia Payne earned her second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award, while Mercer newcomer Linnea Rosendal was bestowed Freshman of the Year honors. The coaches also selected all-conference and all-freshman teams.

Lawrence, who captured Freshman of the Year honors last season, averaged 18.5 points per game this season, including a league-leading 21.0 points per game in conference action. The Columbus, Ga., native was also in the top five in the league in field-goal percentage (44.8 percent) despite carrying a heavy offensive load. Lawrence accounted for two of the four highest single-game point totals this season, scoring a career-high 36 points against UNCG on Jan. 7 and 34 points versus Furman to close out the season on Saturday.

Lawrence earned player of the week honors three times this season. This marks the second straight season a Mercer player has garnered player of the year recognition, as Precious Bridges won the award in 2015.

Gardner claimed Coach of the Year distinction after leading Mercer to its first share of a SoCon regular-season title. The Bears went 22-7 overall and 12-2 in conference play in just their second season in the league, and their 22 wins set a program record for most victories in a season during the NCAA Division I era.

Payne nabbed the Defensive Player of the Year award after anchoring the Mocs’ stout defense. UTC allowed a SoCon-best 49.8 points per game in conference action. In a win over Mercer on Feb. 20, Payne helped limit Lawrence to eight points on 4-of-15 shooting.

Rosendal averaged 9.3 points per game to lead all freshmen. The Stockholm, Sweden, native shot 37.3 percent (59-of-158) from 3-point range – third-best in the league – and drained seven 3-pointers against UNCG on Dec. 30, which tied two other players for the most made 3-point field goals in a game this season among SoCon players.

Lawrence is joined on the All-SoCon first team by ETSU sophomore Tianna Tarter, Furman junior Whitney Bunn, UNCG senior Lucy Mason and Jasmine Joyner, a junior from Chattanooga. Joyner was second in the country this season with an average of 4.07 blocked shots per game.

On the All-SoCon second team, Payne is joined by ETSU junior Shamauria Bridges, Furman senior Holli Wilkins, Samford redshirt senior Taylor Reece and UTC teammates Queen Alford, a redshirt junior, and Keiana Gilbert, a sophomore.  Six players were named to the second team due to a tie in the voting.

The all-freshman team is comprised of Mercer’s Rosendal and her teammate Keke Calloway in addition to ETSU’s Raven Dean, Furman’s Kaitlyn Duncan and Western Carolina’s Raziyah Farrington.

UNCG junior India Timpton collected the Ann Lashley Inspiration Award. Timpton is in her third year as the women’s basketball team representative for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for UNCG and is in her second year on the executive board serving as the secretary. She is a member of Sigma Alpha Lambda (SAL), a National Leadership and Honors Organization, where she serves on the executive board as both the vice president of leadership development and as the treasurer. She recently organized a food drive with SAAC and SAL that collected more than 200 canned goods for those in need.

This year, Timpton became a member of Sigma Alpha Phi (SAP), the National Society of Leadership and Success.

The 2016 Southern Conference Women’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale begins Thursday at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C. Semifinal action is set for Friday, and the tournament will culminate on Sunday at 1 p.m. with the women’s championship game. All women’s contests will be broadcast on ESPN3.

2016 SoCon Women’s Basketball Awards

First-Team All-Conference

Tianna Tarter, ETSU, So.           

Whitney Bunn, Furman, Jr.

Kahlia Lawrence, Mercer, So.    

Lucy Mason, UNCG, Sr.

Jasmine Joyner, Chattanooga, Jr.

Second-Team All-Conference (six players due to tie)

Shamauria Bridges, ETSU, Jr.   

Holli Wilkins, Furman, Sr.

Taylor Reece, Samford, R-Sr.

Queen Alford, Chattanooga, R-Jr.         

Keiana Gilbert, Chattanooga, So.

Alicia Payne, Chattanooga, Sr.

All-Freshman Team

Raven Dean, ETSU

Kaitlyn Duncan, Furman

KeKe Calloway, Mercer

Linnea Rosendal, Mercer

Raziyah Farrington, Western Carolina

Player of the Year

Kahlia Lawrence, Mercer, So.

Defensive Player of the Year

Alicia Payne, Chattanooga, Sr.

Freshman of the Year

Linnea Rosendal, Mercer

Coach of the Year

Susie Gardner, Mercer

Ann Lashley Inspiration Award

India Timpton, UNCG, Jr.

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