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Women's Basketball Annual Awards Announced
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 02/27/2018
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Mercer's Kahlia Lawerence and head coach Susie Gardner
Courtesy: Southern Conference
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Mercer senior Kahlia Lawrence has been named 2018 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 and media. ETSU freshman Erica Haynes-Overton earned the defensive player of the year award and freshman of the year honors, making her the first student-athlete in SoCon history to claim both awards in the same year. The coaches and media also selected all-conference and all-freshman teams.

Lawrence, who captured freshman of the year honors in 2014-15 and was named the player of the year the past two seasons, averaged 18.6 points per game this season and finished the season ranked in the top 15 of nine other statistical categories. She is the first student-athlete to garner the award three times in SoCon history. The Columbus, Georgia, native scored the second-most points in a single game in the conference this season with 39 against ACC opponent North Carolina, giving the Bears their first win ever over an ACC opponent. The senior has also been instrumental in helping Mercer reel off 24 straight victories, tied for the third-longest streak in Division I with Baylor. Lawrence was named the player of the week and player of the month two times this year. This marks the fourth 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 for the second time in her career after leading Mercer to its first-ever outright regular-season SoCon title. The Bears went 27-2 overall and 14-0 in conference play, marking the first time a SoCon team finished the conference slate unblemished since the 2014-15 campaign. Gardner also led Mercer to a No. 25 ranking in both the AP and USA Today polls, giving the Bears their first appearance ever in the USA Today Top 25 and their first since 1980 in the AP Top 25.

Haynes-Overton nabbed the defensive player of the year award after anchoring ETSU’s defense. The Bucs averaged a league-best 11.4 steals per game while Haynes-Overton led the league and ranked fourth in all of Division I with 3.9 steals per game and 102 total this season. The Nashville, Tennessee, native set a new single-game program record with 11 steals on Nov. 29 before teammate Tianna Tarter matched that mark four days later. The 11 steals are the most in a single game in the SoCon this season.

Haynes-Overton averaged 14.3 points per game to lead all freshmen and was twice named SoCon player of the week. The 5-5 guard’s 51-percent shooting clip from the floor in conference games ranked sixth-best in the league. Haynes-Overton’s freshman of the year selection marks the first for ETSU since DeShawne Blocker garnered the award in 1991-92 and is just the second time ever in school history. It is also the first time an ETSU player has been named defensive player of the year in the award’s 11-year history and stops a four-year run by Chattanooga.

Lawrence is joined on the All-SoCon coaches and media first team by three-time selection ETSU senior Tianna Tarter, Mercer teammates KeKe Calloway and Sydni Means and Keiana Gilbert, a senior from Chattanooga.

On the All-SoCon coaches’ second team, Haynes-Overton is joined by Furman senior Cierra Carter, UNCG’s Ije Ajemba and Nadine Soliman and Wofford freshman Da’Ja Green. Samford’s Hannah Nichols was named to the media second team, replacing Green.

The coaches’ third team is comprised of Le’Jzae Davidson and Celena Taborn of Furman, Samford’s Nichols and Lakelyn Bouldin and Aryanna Gilbert of Chattanooga.

The coaches’ all-freshman team is comprised of ETSU’s Haynes-Overton, Furman’s Taborn, Chattanooga’s Bria Dial and Wofford’s Green and Jamari McDavid. Taborn’s 60-percent shooting effort from the floor led the league. Makaila Woolard of Samford was named to the media all-freshman team along with Haynes-Overton, Taborn, Green and McDavid.

ETSU’s Malloree Schurr is a two-sport athlete, playing both softball and basketball, and the recipient of this year’s Ann Lashley Inspiration Award. In the spring of 2015, Schurr lost her father, who she considered her best friend. After basketball season, she went home for a week in Texas, but on her flight back to Johnson City, Tennessee, to begin the softball season, her father passed away. Schurr used softball as an outlet to cope with the stress and grief and showed tremendous strength during such a difficult and life-changing time. This past winter, Schurr and the Bucs played in front of many of Schurr’s family and friends at the University of Houston, her first time playing at home since the loss of her father.

The 2018 Southern Conference Women’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale begins Thursday at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, North Carolina. Semifinal action is set for Friday, and the tournament will culminate on Sunday at 12 p.m. with the women’s championship game. All women’s contests will be broadcast on ESPN3.

 

2018 SoCon Women’s Basketball Coaches Awards

First-Team All-Conference

Tianna Tarter, ETSU, Sr.

KeKe Calloway, Mercer, Jr.

Kahlia Lawrence, Mercer, Sr.

Sydni Means, Mercer, Sr.

Keiana Gilbert, Chattanooga, Sr.

Second-Team All-Conference

Erica Haynes-Overton, ETSU, Fr.

Cierra Carter, Furman, Sr.

Ije Ajemba, UNCG, Sr.

Nadine Soliman, UNCG, So.

Da’Ja Green, Wofford, Fr.

Third-Team All-Conference

Le’Jzae Davidson, Furman, So.

Celena Taborn, Furman, Fr.

Hannah Nichols, Samford, Sr.

Lakelyn Bouldin, Chattanooga, Fr.

Aryanna Gilbert, Chattanooga, Sr.

All-Freshman Team

Erica-Haynes Overton, ETSU

Celena Taborn, Furman

Bria Dial, Chattanooga

Da’Ja Green, Wofford

Jamari McDavid, Wofford

Player of the Year

Kahlia Lawrence, Mercer, Sr.

Defensive Player of the Year

Erica Haynes-Overton, ETSU, Fr.

Freshman of the Year

Erica Haynes-Overton, ETSU

Coach of the Year

Susie Gardner, Mercer

Ann Lashley Inspiration Award

Malloree Schurr, ETSU, Sr.

2018 SoCon Women’s Basketball Media Awards

First-Team Media All-Conference

Tianna Tarter, ETSU, Sr.

KeKe Calloway, Mercer, Jr.

Kahlia Lawrence, Mercer, Sr.

Sydni Means, Mercer, Sr.

Keiana Gilbert, Chattanooga, Sr.

Second-Team Media All-Conference

Erica Haynes-Overton, ETSU, Fr.

Cierra Carter, Furman, Sr.

Ije Ajemba, UNCG, Sr.

Nadine Soliman, UNCG, So.

Hannah Nichols, Samford, Sr.

Media All-Freshman Team

Erica Haynes-Overton, ETSU

Celena Taborn, Furman

Makaila Woolard, Samford

Da’Ja Green, Wofford

Jamari McDavid, Wofford

Media Player of the Year

Kahlia Lawrence, Mercer, Sr.

Media Freshman of the Year

Erica Haynes-Overton, ETSU

Media Coach of the Year

Susie Gardner, Mercer

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