SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference women’s basketball media awards were a clean sweep for Mercer, as Kahlia Lawrence garnered 2016 SoCon Player of the Year honors, Linnea Rosendal claimed Freshman of the Year accolades and Susie Gardner earned Coach of the Year recognition, the league office announced Tuesday. The media also selected all-conference and all-freshman teams.
Lawrence, a sophomore guard from Columbus, Ga., averaged 18.5 points per game this season, including a league-leading 21.0 points per game in conference action for the Bears. She 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.
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.
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.
The media’s All-SoCon first team selections mirrored the coaches’ picks. Lawrence is joined by ETSU sophomore Tianna Tarter, Furman junior Whitney Bunn, UNCG senior Lucy Mason and junior Jasmine Joyner from Chattanooga. Joyner was second in the country with an average of 4.07 blocked shots per game.
The media’s All-SoCon second team features ETSU junior Shamauria Bridges, Furman senior Holli Wilkins, Samford sophomore Destiney Elliott and a pair of Chattanooga teammates in Queen Alford, a redshirt junior, and Keiana Gilbert, a sophomore.
Rosendal headlines the media’s all-freshman team, which also includes ETSU’s Raven Dean, Furman’s Kaitlyn Duncan, Mercer’s KeKe Calloway, Western Carolina’s Raziyah Farrington and Wofford’s Chloe Wanink. Six players were named to the all-freshman team due to a tie in the voting.
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.