Lexi Eaton named WCC Tournament MVP as BYU wins championship
Jasmine Martin, Guard, 5-foot-6, Sr., Quinnipiac
In just its second season in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), Quinnipiac ended Marist’s decade-long run in the league, defeating the Red Foxes 72-61 in the championship game of the 2015 MAAC championship with Martin leading the way. Marist had won nine consecutive conference championships, including last season against Quinnipiac in the championship game. Martin scored 18 points against Marist on 7-for-15 shooting and 3 of 5 from long range and was named tournament MVP. Through the three-game tournament, the 1,600-plus career point scorer averaged 19 points to lead all scorers while shooting 40.9 percent (18-for-44) from the floor, 43.8 percent (7-for-16) from beyond the 3-point line and 93.3 percent (13-for-14) at the line. The conference championship marks Quinnipiac's second in three years, as the Bobcats won the Northeast Conference Championship in 2013. The Bobcats will enter the 2015 NCAA Tournament with a 31-2 record.
Lexi Eaton, Guard, 5-10, Jr., BYU
Behind the play of Eaton, BYU became the lowest seed to win the West Coast Conference (WCC) Championship. The five-seed Cougars sealed the NCAA Tournament bid by defeating San Francisco 76-65 on Tuesday. Eaton was named tournament MVP after leading the Cougars with 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals against San Francisco. She averaged 22.7 points during BYU's championship run that included wins against Saint Mary’s (65-64) and regular season champion Gonzaga (61-55). In the championship game, Eaton had 11 points in the first half, marking the 29th time this year that she’s had more than 10 points in a game. The 22-point outing was the 16th game with 20-plus points. BYU (23-9, 12-6 WCC) won their second conference tournament since joining the WCC in the 2011-12 season, which was also the same year they won their first championship.
Sina King, Forward, 6-1, Sr., Akron
Akron senior King upped her career double figure scoring games to 85 and capped her regular season career in grand style, averaging 23.5 points and 12.5 rebounds to spark the Zips to a 2-0 mark this past week. She connected on 46.8 percent (15-for-32) of her shots from the field and at a 50-percent clip (3-of-6) from beyond the 3-point line. In Akron’s 67-55 win against Miami (Ohio), King posted an 18-point, seven-rebound performance, including a pair of 3-pointers. A dominating 29-point, 18-rebound performance followed as the Zips recorded their first victory at Bowling Green with a come-from-behind 79-71 triumph past the Falcons. King scored 23 of her 29 points in the decisive second half, one in which Akron trailed 36-30 at halftime, to record her conference-leading 15th double-double of the season and eighth in league play. Her 29 points equaled a career high set twice earlier this season, while the 18 rebounds were a new career best. Her 12 defensive rebounds are the most for a Zip in a game this season. On the season, King racks up a conference-best 20.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 48.2 percent from the field and 38 percent from beyond the arc. She has scored in double figures in every game this season and 40 consecutive overall. A No. 3 seed for this week’s Mid-American Conference Tournament, Akron next plays on Thursday versus the winner of the Eastern Michigan-Toledo game.
Megan Podkowa, Guard/Forward, 6-2, Jr., DePaul
Podkowa was named Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player after leading DePaul to its second consecutive conference title by scoring 19 points and pulling down six rebounds. The Blue Demons defeated Seton Hall 78-68 on Tuesday night, earning an automatic bid to participate in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The road to the Big East title for DePaul went through Xavier 87-53, Villanova 58-55 and then Seton Hall. In the win against Villanova, Podkwa led the way with 22 points and 10 rebounds, reaching double digits for the 24th time. DePaul, which improved to 26-7 with the win, will be making its 20th NCAA Tournament appearance and 13th in a row next weekend.
Aleighsa Welch, Forward, 6-0, Sr., South Carolina
Welch averaged 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in leading South Carolina to its first Southeastern Conference (SEC) tournament championship. The Gamecocks won three games in as many days behind the energy and effort of Welch and a stifling defensive effort. The Gamecocks opened tournament play with a 58-36 win against Arkansas. Welch’s top outing came in the tournament semifinals against LSU, registering an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double as South Carolina overcome a slow start to win 74-54. Welch's double-double was her third of the season and 22nd of her career, which ranks ninth in program history. Playing in the program’s first SEC championship game, the Gamecocks throttled Tennessee 62-46 on Sunday as Welch had 14 points and eight rebounds. Welch broke the program record for career offensive boards during the SEC Tournament and now has 435 during her four seasons on campus. The SEC title helped South Carolina top the 30-win mark, with the Gamecocks improving to 30-2 going into the NCAA Tournament.