IRVING, Texas - Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss and UTEP swept the top individual honors among the 2013-14 Conference USA women's basketball awards announced by the league office. The honors were voted on by the league's head coaches, media relations contacts and a select media panel. Head coaches and SIDs were not allowed to vote for their own players.
Middle Tennessee senior forward Ebony Rowe garnered C-USA Player of the Year, while her teammate forward Olivia Jones was named C-USA Freshman of the Year.
Picking up her first Coach of the Year accolade is Joye Lee-McNelis of Southern Miss. Senior point guard Jamierra Faulkner was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year, while junior transfer Tamara Jones was voted Newcomer of the Year for the Golden Eagles.
UTEP sophomore guard Jenzel Nash came off the bench to pick up the Sixth Player of the Year award.
Faulkner (West Palm Beach, Fla.) finished the regular season leading the nation in assists per game with a C-USA single-season record 8.5 helpers. Her 243 assists on the year also bettered the previous C-USA single-season record of 235. Faulkner is just 17 shy of tying the league's career assists mark. In addition, the Florida native appears ninth in the NCAA and second in the conference with a 3.03 steal average. Faulkner matched another league record and set the school standard with 349 career thefts. She enters championship week ranked eighth in scoring (17.4 ppg) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9).
Jones (Prosser, Wash.) was one of the most highly-anticipated transfers that came into the league this season. She averaged 14.6 points and shot .492 from the floor while playing in 29 of 30 games. Jones scored a career-high 41 points against Arkansas-Little Rock, had 40 vs. Tulsa and ended the regular season with 32 at North Texas.
After being picked 13th in the league's preseason poll, Lee-McNelis and her team far exceeded the expectations of the voters. In her 10th season at her alma mater, she was charged with blending a school-record nine newcomers into a program that only had one senior (Faulkner). Southern Miss completed a 24-5 regular season, finished second in the league standings (13-3) and matched the program's all-time best with a No. 2 seed in the 2014 C-USA championship.
2014 CONFERENCE USA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL AWARD WINNERS
Player of the Year
Ebony Rowe, Middle Tennessee
Freshman of the Year
Olivia Jones, Middle Tennessee
Sixth Player of the Year
Jenzel Nash, UTEP
Defensive Player of the Year
Jamierra Faulkner, Southern Miss
Newcomer of the Year
Tamara Jones, Southern Miss
Coach of the Year
Joye Lee-McNelis, Southern Miss