SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference announced its November athletes of the month for men’s and women’s basketball, football, rifle, volleyball and wrestling Thursday, highlighting excellence among student-athletes during the month.
Matt Rafferty, Furman, Sr., F
Furman forward Matt Rafferty led the Paladins to a 7-0 record in November that included road wins over 2018 Final Four participants Loyola Chicago and defending national champion and eighth-ranked Villanova. The senior from Hinsdale, Illinois, was the only player in the league to rank in the top five in the SoCon in scoring (18.4 points per game), rebounding (8.7), assists (4.7), steals (1.6) and blocked shots (1.3) in the month. Rafferty scored at least 20 points three times, opening the season with career-high 24 against Bob Jones and matching that in an overtime win over Gardner-Webb before closing the month with 20 points at UNC Asheville. Rafferty recorded three double-doubles in November, including a 15-point, career-best 17-rebound effort in the win over Villanova. He scored 18 points and assisted on the game-winning dunk with 1.6 seconds left in the win at Loyola Chicago. A member of the Lou Henson Award watch list, Rafferty shot 63.3 percent from the floor for the month and had a 4.1 assist-to-turnover ratio. On Monday, Furman entered the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time in school history at No. 25.
Others nominated: Lew Stallworth (The Citadel), Jeromy Rodriguez (ETSU), Ross Cummings (Mercer), Francis Alonso (UNCG), Ruben Guerrero (Samford), Kevin Easley (Chattanooga), Bubba Parham (VMI), Carlos Dotson (Western Carolina) and Fletcher Magee (Wofford).
KeKe Calloway, Mercer, Sr., G
Mercer senior guard KeKe Calloway averaged 19.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game as the Bears went 3-4 in the month of November. Calloway scored 30-plus points in back-to-back contests, scoring 32 in a win at Georgia Southern on Nov. 12 and 30 in a defeat of SEC foe Florida on Nov. 15. She earned her first career double-double in the win over the Eagles as she added 10 assists in addition to her scoring output. The Forsyth, Georgia, native netted double digits in six of the seven contests and 20-plus points in four games. The preseason SoCon Player of the Year was named the SoCon player of the week twice in the first month of the season. Calloway is tied for the conference lead in scoring, averaging 20.1 points per game. Her 4.6 assists per game rank second-best amongst conference players, while her 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio and 2.5 3s per game are third. Calloway, who leads the conference with 36.1 minutes per game, is also top-10 in steals, rebounding, defensive rebounds and free-throw percentage.
Others nominated: Erica Haynes-Overton (ETSU), Le’Jzae Davidson (Furman), Nadine Soliman (UNCG), Paige Serup (Samford), Lakelyn Bouldin (Chattanooga) and Chloe Wanink (Wofford).
Devlin Hodges, Samford, R-Sr., QB
Samford quarterback Devlin Hodges averaged 432.7 yards of total offense per game as the Bulldogs went 2-1 in November with a pair of wins over ranked squads. Hodges threw for 1,207 yards and six touchdowns in the three games, finishing the month and his career with an FCS-record 14,584 passing yards and surpassing his own SoCon record for single-season passing yards with 4,283. Hodges threw for 399 yards and four TDs and ran for 18 yards and a score in Samford’s win over No. 8 Wofford on Nov. 3 and threw for 404 yards and two touchdowns in a loss at The Citadel a week later. Hodges closed his month with another 404 yards in a win at No. 17 ETSU, running for 16 yards and three TDs. For the month, Hodges was 112-for-163 through the air with just two interceptions. He also ran for 91 yards and four scores en route to becoming the SoCon’s career leader in total offense (15,601 yards). Hodges, who was the SoCon Offensive Player of the Week twice in the month, winning the award after both Bulldog wins, earned his second straight monthly honor.
Others nominated: Brandon Rainey (The Citadel), Austin Herink (ETSU), Tyray Devezin (Mercer), Bryce Nunnelly (Chattanooga), Tyrie Adams (Western Carolina) and Andre Stoddard (Wofford).
Adrian Hope, Furman, R-Fr., BAN
Furman bandit linebacker Adrian Hope recorded 7.0 sacks among 15 tackles and forced three fumbles and recovered one as part of a dominating month that helped the Paladins clinch a share of the SoCon regular-season title. The freshman from Ocala, Florida, finished the season tied for the FCS lead with 15 sacks, while his three-game November total would have ranked third in the SoCon for the season. Hope opened his month with 2.5 sacks for 11 yards in the Paladins’ win over Chattanooga, totaling five tackles on the day. The following week at VMI, he recorded six tackles, including 2.0 sacks for 6 yards. He also forced a fumble on the day. In Furman’s season finale at Mercer, Hope had 2.5 sacks for 8 yards among his four tackles. He also forced two fumbles on the day, recovering one on the final play of the game, a strip sack that prevented the Bears from taking a final shot at the end zone in Furman’s 35-30 win. Hope, who was named the SoCon Defensive Player of the Week for that performance, earned his way onto the Jerry Rice Award watch list in the month and was eventually announced as a finalist.
Others nominated: Tyree Robinson (ETSU), Sidney Otiwu (Mercer), Aaron Harris (Samford), Isaiah Mack (Chattanooga), Michael Murphy (Western Carolina) and DT Wilson (Wofford).
Ricky Medina, North Georgia, So.
Sophomore Ricky Medina did not finish below third on the team in any match in November. He helped to lead the Nighthawks to two strong 4580 aggregate scores and a win over The Citadel. Medina’s strongest individual smallbore score came on Nov. 17, when he shot a 572 in a match that included No. 7 Memphis, No. 8 Nebraska, No. 14 Jacksonville State, No. 19 UT Martin and No. 23 UAB. Medina’s average score for the month was 570, 5.5 points higher than his average score for the month of October.
Others nominated: Max Brabston (The Citadel).
Max Brabston, The Citadel, So.
Sophomore Max Brabston led the Bulldogs in their sole competition of the month, firing off a season-best 587 in air rifle to finish second in the discipline against No. 18 North Georgia. He ended the competition third overall with an 1151 aggregate score, his best of the season and just four points off his personal collegiate record.
Others nominated: Tobin Sanctuary (North Georgia).
Krista Boesing, Samford, Sr., OH
Samford outside hitter Krista Boesing helped lead the Bulldogs to a 6-2 record and 3-1 conference mark in the month of November. The Bulldogs downed No. 7 Chattanooga, No. 3 Furman and top-seed and regular-season champion ETSU en route to their second Southern Conference Championship title in three seasons and a berth to the NCAA tournament. The senior tallied 104 kills, 3.59 per set, and added 22 digs and 13 blocks. Boesing totaled double-digit kills in seven of the eight matches, highlighted by 17 in both the regular-season win over Chattanooga and the 3-1 victory over ETSU in the conference championship. Boesing, who hit .249 on the month, was named to all-conference first team and the SoCon all-tournament squad and was the recipient of the Pinnacle Award, given to the SoCon student-athlete with the highest GPA on the championship-winning team.
Others nominated: Sharlissa De Jesus (The Citadel), Leah Clayton (ETSU), Carris Campbell (Furman), Brittany Major (Mercer), Holly Behrends (UNCG), Abigail Veit (Western Carolina) and Catie Cronister (Wofford).
Mariah McPartland, ETSU, Sr., MB
ETSU middle blocker Mariah McPartland finished the month of November with 33 blocks (1.27 per set) and 46 kills (1.77 per set) as the Bucs went 6-2 overall and 4-0 in SoCon play. She opened her month with a career-best eight total blocks in a four-set win at Furman and recorded at least four blocks in five of ETSU’s eight November contests, including seven in the Bucs’ 3-1 loss to Samford in the SoCon Championship title bout. ETSU, the SoCon regular-season champion, would go on to earn the conference’s first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, where McPartland, a native of Boone, Iowa, hit .357 with seven kills and four blocks in the Bucs’ loss to Purdue in the first round. The senior, a second-team all-conference selection, hit .284 on the month and added 15 digs and two service aces.
Others nominated: Sarah Dobrich (The Citadel), Meg DeMaar (Furman), Alexia Morey (Mercer), Mandy Garvens (UNCG), Grace Tiesman (Samford), Meagan Sanchez (Western Carolina) and Taylor Gill (Wofford).
Randall Diabe, Appalachian State, Sr., 197 pounds
Appalachian State senior Randall Diabe went 10-3 overall and 4-1 in duals for the month of November, winning four of his matches by major decision. The Greensboro, North Carolina, native recorded a win against 15th-ranked Sawyer Root of The Citadel and Campbell’s Austin McNeill during a 3-1 showing at the Hokie Open and then went on to finish third at the Keystone Classic. His month also included dual wins against wrestlers from Rutgers and North Carolina, both ranked 15th at the time. Diabe finished November with consecutive major decisions, earning a 10-2 win over UNC’s Hunter Queen and a 12-4 win over Ohio’s Nathan Hall.
Others nominated: Sawyer Root (The Citadel), Mitchell Trigg (Davidson), Tyler Marinelli (Gardner-Webb), Fabian Gutierrez (Chattanooga) and Neal Richards (VMI).
Southern Conference November Athletes of the Month
Men’s basketball Matt Rafferty, Furman
Women’s basketball KeKe Calloway, Mercer
Football – offense Devlin Hodges, Samford
Football – defense Adrian Hope, Furman
Rifle – smallbore Ricky Medina, North Georgia
Rifle – air rifle Max Brabston, The Citadel
Volleyball – offense Krista Boesing, Samford
Volleyball – defense Mariah McPartland, ETSU
Wrestling Randall Diabe, Appalachian State