Wednesday, 06 March 2024 21:10


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SHAWNEE, Okla. –  On Wednesday, the Great American Conference announced its 2023-24 Women’s Basketball superlative awards, released the All-GAC teams and named its top Scholar Athletes. Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Faith Simpson captured Player of the Year; Hannah Giddey repeated as Defensive Player of the Year; Henderson State’s Tori Gittens earned Newcomer of the Year; Harding’s Josie Williams won Freshman of the Year and Southern Nazarene’s Trent May repeated as Coach of the Year.

Eight standout student-athletes garnered the Elite Scholar Athlete Award - Presented by Conway Regional Health System. Henderson State’s Gittens, Bobbi Bazzle, Jaynae Eddens and Alexandra McClendon; Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Kynsey Dixon and Anna Motycka, Harding’s Jorey Thorman and Ouachita Baptist’s Madeleine Tipton all own perfect 4.00 grade-point averages.

Simpson became the first Ranger named Player of the Year and only the second in program history to receive one of the four individual superlative awards. She led the Rangers to their first 20-win season at the Division II level. Her 263 made field goals rank third amongst Division I and II players. She trails only Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley. She leads the GAC in points per game, 21.6, and field goal percentage, 54.9. 

Giddey, who led Division II in blocks a season ago, has already blocked 10 more shots this season, 103, than her 2022-23 total to again pace the country. She can become only the fifth DII player to lead the nation in the category in consecutive seasons. She ranks second in the league in rebounding. On the offensive side, she paces the GAC in assists per game to rank as the lone women’s college basketball to lead her respective conference in both categories. May and the Crimson Storm enter the GAC Championships ranked No. 1 in the Central Region following their second-straight season of posting a 21-1 league record.Gittens emerged as the nation’s top 3-point shooter as her 51.4 3-point field goal percentage leads all divisions. She averages 11.0 points per game. Williams joins a long line of Lady Bisons tabbed Freshman of the Year. Her teammate, Sage Hawley, won in 2021; Kellie Lampo won in 2017-18; A’ndrea Haney won in 2013-14 and Montana Lewis claimed the inaugural honor in 2011-12. Williams averages 10.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and leads the team in steals.

Simpson and Southern Nazarene guard Lauryn Reither earned unanimous spots to the All-GAC First-Team. Reither led the conference in steals, ranked second to Simpson in field goal percentage, third in assists and fourth in scoring. Reither and Giddey gave the Crimson Storm two First-Team picks. Harding’s Hawley, Henderson State’s Ashley Farrar and Oklahoma Baptist’s Jaedyn Getman filled out the All-GAC First Team. Hawley became a three-time First-Team All-GAC honoree. She finished the regular season tied with Giddey for the league lead with 13 double-doubles. Her 10.1 rebounds per game lead the league. She reached the 1,000-rebound milestone in the regular-season finale. Farrar repeated as a First-Team selection. She ranks fifth in the league in scoring while leading the GAC in made free throws and free throws attempted. Getman, the 2023 GAC Freshman of the Year, ended the regular season ranked second in scoring at 17.8 points per game. She added 6.4 rebounds per game. 

The All-GAC Second Team consisted of Harding’s Rory Geer and Aubrey Isbell, East Central’s Mackenzie Crusoe, Southeastern Oklahoma State’s Caitlin Kobiske and Ouachita Baptist’s Laney Mears.

Gittens and Tipton placed on the Honorable Mention All-GAC Team. Arkansas Tech’s Alex Hill, Maisa Marcal and Dana Thompson; Arkansas-Monticello’s Bailey Harris, Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Carly Craig, Southern Arkansas’s Addy Tremie, Southern Nazarene’s Emily Monaghan and Southwestern Oklahoma State’s Averi Zinn rounded out the Honorable Mention Team,

A total of 20 student-athletes earned the Distinguished Scholar Athlete award  - Presented by Conway Regional Health System in Harding’s Hawley, Isbell, Regan Crawford, Ella Thompson and Itziar Ugarte; Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Craig, Josena Frame, Chelsea Lindsey, Camille Thomas and Ali Zeka; Southwestern Oklahoma State’s Zinn, Cierra Gooch, Layni Zinn and Libbi Zinn; Henderson State’s Farrar and Makenna Winans, Southern Nazarene’s Reither and Georgia Adams, Arkansas Tech’s Julie Wagner and Ouachita Baptist’s Gracen Williams.



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