(HALIFAX, N.S.) - Atlantic University Sport is pleased to announce the 2017-18 AUS women's basketball all-stars and major award winners as selected by the conference's eight head coaches following regular season play.
Fifth-year Acadia guard Paloma Anderson was named the Atlantic University Sport most valuable player today. This year's AUS basketball awards will be presented to winners on the floor of the Scotiabank Centre prior to their respective games during the Subway AUS Basketball Championships March 2-4.
Other AUS major award winners announced today were UPEI's Reese Baxendale of Sussex, N.B., who was named AUS rookie of the year; UPEI's Carolina Del Santo of Barcelona, Spain, who was named AUS defensive player of the year; UPEI's Jane McLaughlin of Fortune, P.E.I., who is the AUS Tracy MacLeod Award Nominee; UPEI's Kiera Rigby of Charlottetown, P.E.I., who received the student-athlete community service award; and Acadia Axewomen head coach Len Harvey, who was named the AUS coach of the year for the first time in his career.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Paloma Anderson, Acadia Axewomen
Paloma Anderson, a five-foot-one guard with the U SPORTS no. 3-ranked Acadia Axewomen, is the Atlantic University Sport women's basketball most valuable player for the second time in her career.
A fourth-year sociology student in her fifth year of eligibility for Acadia, Anderson averaged 18.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game for the top-ranked Axewomen this season.
She led the nation in assists this season, averaging 5.5 per game. Her 52 steals this season were the most in the Atlantic conference and her average of 2.6 steals per game was the second best in AUS.
First in team scoring and second in conference scoring, Anderson led the Axewomen to a 18-2 regular season record, a first-place finish in the AUS standings and a playoff bye through to the semifinals of the Subway AUS Women's Basketball Championship.
In four seasons with Acadia, she amassed 1,446 points to a set a new school record for career points scored.
She also set new school records for career free throws made with 292 and for points in a single game, scoring 41 in a 2016 game versus StFX.
Anderson finishes her career as a two-time AUS MVP, having first earned the conference's top honour in 2015-16. She is the only Acadia player to ever be named AUS MVP.
She is also a three-time AUS first team all-star, having been named to the AUS first team all-star squad for the third consecutive year today, as well as a two-time U SPORTS first team all-Canadian.
Anderson now becomes the AUS nominee for the Nan Copp Award for U SPORTS player of the year.
Former Saint Mary's Huskies standout Justine Colley is the only AUS women's basketball player to ever take home national MVP honours. She earned back-to-back Nan Copp awards in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Reese Baxendale, UPEI Panthers
Reese Baxendale of the UPEI Panthers is the AUS women's basketball rookie of the year.
A five-foot-eight guard from Sussex, N.B., Baxendale has made an instant impact with the Panthers, starting in all 20 games this season.
In her freshman year with UPEI, she led all AUS rookies in points, averaging 10.2 per game. She added 3.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
She led the Panthers in steals, averaging 1.8 per game and her 36 total steals were the third most the in Atlantic conference.
Along with being honoured as the conference's top rookie, she also earned a place on the AUS all-rookie team.
Baxendale will now represent the conference as the AUS nominee for the Kathy Shields Award for U SPORTS rookie of the year.
Alison Keough of the Cape Breton Capers (in 2013-14), Vanessa Pickard of StFX (2011-12) and Claire Colborne of UNB (2010-11) are the most recent AUS players to win the national rookie of the year award.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Carolina Del Santo, UPEI Panthers
Carolina Del Santo of the UPEI Panthers women's basketball team is the 2017-18 AUS defensive player of the year.
A six-foot-one centre from Barcelona, Spain, Del Santo led the nation in blocks, averaging 2.4 per game.
She finished second in the country and first in the conference in rebounds, averaging 12.5 per game. Her 250 total rebounds set a new AUS single season record.
Del Santo also added 1.4 steals per game for the Panthers defence.
On offence, she contributed 9.2 points and 1.7 assists per game.
She will now become the Atlantic conference nominee for the U SPORTS defensive player of the year award.
Kennisha-Shanice Luberisse of the Saint Mary's Huskies earned the national honour in 2015-16. She is the only AUS player to ever be honoured with the U SPORTS (formerly CIS) award.
DR. CAROLYN SAVOY AWARD (AUS COACH OF THE YEAR): Len Harvey, Acadia Axewomen
Head coach Len Harvey of the U SPORTS no. 3-ranked Acadia Axewomen is the 2017-18 recipient of the Dr. Carolyn Savoy Memorial Award for AUS coach of the year for the first time in his career.
In his third year at the helm of the program, Harvey led the Axewomen to an 18-2 regular season record—unprecedented in team history.
Acadia led U SPORTS in points (86.2), rebounds (45.9) and assists (18.7) per game.
The Axewomen's three-point percentage (33.9) and field goal percentage (42.2) were the best in the Atlantic conference. The Axewomen also held their opponents to a conference-best 35.3 per cent from the field.
Before joining the Axewomen as head coach in 2015, Harvey served as the head coach of the Mount Royal University Cougars program for two seasons.
Prior to that, the Baddeck, N.S. native was an assistant coach with the Cape Breton Capers women's team from 2009 to 2012 under head coach Fabian MacKenzie.
He also served as an assistant coach with the Capers men's team from 2011 to 2013.
As an assistant coach with Cape Breton, Harvey was a part of three AUS championships and a CIS (now U SPORTS) bronze medal win.
Harvey's coach of the year win marks just the second time the AUS award has been won by an Acadia coach. Former Axewomen coach Bev Greenlaw first earned the honour in 2011-12.
Harvey now becomes the Atlantic conference nominee for the U SPORTS coach of the year award.
Saint Mary's head coach Scott Munro is the most resent AUS coach to win the national award. He took home the honour in 2012-13.
TRACY MACLEOD AWARD NOMINEE: Jane McLaughlin, UPEI Panthers
Jane McLaughlin of the UPEI Panthers is the 2017-18 nominee for the U SPORTS Tracy MacLeod Award.
This award rewards a women's basketball player who demonstrates determination, perseverance and unwavering spirit to continue playing the game of basketball.
A five-foot-10 forward from Fortune, P.E.I., McLaughlin started in 17 games for the Panthers this season and played in all 20.
She averaged 7.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game for UPEI. McLaughlin is the co-captain of the UPEI team, which finished third in the AUS standings with an 11-9 regular season record.
In her sophomore year, McLaughlin made the difficult decision to step away from the sport of basketball in order to seek treatment for mental illness.
After taking time to focus on her mental health and recovery, McLaughlin rejoined the Panthers team in the 2015-16 season, starting in all 20 games and averaging a career-high 10.7 points per game.
She has continued to thrive both on the court and in the classroom with UPEI's nursing program for the past three seasons.
McLaughlin used her experiences to become an ambassador for Bell Let's Talk Day, sharing her story with others and helping to remove the stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness.
She now becomes the AUS nominee for the U SPORTS Tracy MacLeod Award. The only two AUS players to take home the national honour have been Memorial's Brittany Dalton (2010-11) and Dalhousie's Janet Wells (1999-00).
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Kiera Rigby, UPEI Panthers
Fifth-year UPEI Panthers forward Kiera Rigby is the 2017-18 recipient of the AUS student-athlete community service award and the AUS nominee for the U SPORTS Sylvia Sweeney award.
A five-foot-11 forward from Charlottetown, P.E.I., Rigby has achieved success on the basketball court and in the classroom, while also being heavily involved in the community.
For her efforts on the court, she was named to the AUS first team all-star squad today. Rigby started in all 20 games for the Panthers, leading in team scoring with an 18.4 points per game average—the third highest in the conference.
She added 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
In the classroom, the biology student has a cumulative GPA of 3.9. She is a four-time academic all-Canadian on pace to repeat the achievement for a fifth time.
Rigby is very active in the community, lending her time to a number of causes. Since June, she has logged over 80 volunteer hours in the physical medicine and emergency departments of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
She serves as the external communications and community outreach coordinator for the World University Services of Canada (WUSC). As part of her work with WUSC, she has planned fundraising events for the Shine a Light campaign, which supports girls' education in refugee camps.
Rigby has volunteered her time with the Arthritis Society, as well as the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life and Run for the Cure.
She is a three-year member of the UPEI Varsity Leadership team, a tutor with Student Services and an active member of the UPEI Biology Society and Pre-Med Society.
"Kiera is one of the most spirited, thoughtful and caring people I know. Her athletic achievements and academic achievements speak for themselves," said UPEI's athletic director, Chris Huggan. "What really stands out is her genuine interest in helping others, volunteering and building community. She is generous with her time, exceptional with kids and is rarely (maybe never) seen without a smile on her face. She's a terrific role model and an exceptional Panther."
Rigby now becomes the AUS nominee for the U SPORTS Sylvia Sweeney Award.
AUS student-athletes have taken home the national honour the past two seasons. Acadia's
Katie Ross won the award last season and Dalhousie's Ainsley MacIntyre took home the honour in 2015-16.
FIRST AND SECOND TEAM ALL-STARS AND ALL-ROOKIE TEAM
The Atlantic University Sport first and second team all-stars were also announced today, along with this year's all-rookie team.
First Team All-Stars:
Paloma Anderson, Acadia (5th year – Phoenix, Arizona)
Alison Keough, Cape Breton (5th year – Marion Bridge, N.S.)
Kiera Rigby, UPEI (5th year – Charlottetown, P.E.I.)
Hannah Brown, Cape Breton (4th year – North Sydney, N.S.)
Alexandra Berry, Acadia (5th year – Yarmouth, N.S.)
Second Team All-Stars:
Kennisha-Shanice Luberisse, Saint Mary's (4th year – Montreal, Que.)
Sydney Stewart, Memorial (4th year – London, Ont.)
Jenna Mae Ellsworth, UPEI (2nd year – Charlottetown, P.E.I.)
Haley McDonald, Acadia (2nd year – Port Williams, N.S.)
Laura Kaye, UNB (5th year – Fredericton, N.B.)
Reese Baxendale, UPEI (Sussex, N.B.)
MacKenzee Ryan, Cape Breton (Glace Bay, N.S.)
Kimberly Kingsbury, StFX (Nepean, Ont.)
Ariel Provo, Dalhousie (Lake Echo, N.S.)
Cameron Longley, Memorial (Hubbards, N.S.)
The 2018 Subway AUS Women's Basketball Championship will be hosted by the AUS conference office at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, N.S., March 2-4, 2018.
The championship schedule is as follows: (seeding in brackets)
Friday, March 2 QF #1: Memorial (5th) vs. Saint Mary's (4th), 1 p.m.
QF #2: UNB (6th) vs. UPEI (3rd), 3 p.m.
Saturday, March 3 SF #1: Winner QF1 vs. Acadia (1st), 1 p.m.
SF #2: Winner QF2 vs. Cape Breton (2nd), 3 p.m.
Sunday, March 4 Championship Game: Winner SF #1 vs. Winner SF #2, 1 p.m. Final AUS standings: http://atlanticuniversitysport.com/sports/wbkb/2017-18/standings.
All games of championship will be broadcast live on Fibe TV (on TV1—channels 1 and 401) and available via webcast at www.AUStv.ca.
For more information on the 2018 Subway AUS Basketball Championships, visit the event website at: www.AUSHoops.ca. Single tickets will become available through the Ticket Atlantic box office Monday at 11 a.m.
The AUS champion will advance to the 2018 U SPORTS Women's Basketball Final 8 championship, being hosted by the University of Regina, March 8-11 in Regina, Sask.
Only the AUS champion is guaranteed a berth in the national championship.
For more information about the U SPORTS championship, please visit http://en.usports.ca/championships/wbkb/index.
For further information, please visit www.atlanticuniversitysport.com, or contact:
Jess Burns Atlantic University Sport
P: (902)425-4235 C: (902)478-7057