April 10, 2011
The Rice women's basketball team conducted its year-end season banquet Sunday evening in the R Room and handed out team its awards. The Owls concluded the 2010-11 season with an 18-13 mark, 10-6 in Conference USA (third place), and berth in the Women's National Invitational Tournament.
What came as no surprise was the fact that freshman Jessica Kuster was named the Gene Hackerman Most Valuable Player. Kuster, from San Antonio, led the team in scoring (14.1), rebounding (10.6), blocked shots (64), free throw percentage (73.7 percent), and field goal percent (45.9 percent). She became only the second-ever freshman in the history of C-USA to be named to the All-C-USA First Team. Kuster was also named as the league's Freshman of the Year and she earned a spot on the All-C-USA Defensive Team as well. Her rebounding average was also the second-highest in the nation amongst all freshmen.
Also earning awards Sunday night were senior Megan Elliott with the Team Academic Award. Elliott, a member of the C-USA All-Academic Team, has posted the team's highest grade point average at 3.61 as a political science and history double major. She was named the 2010 Women's Basketball Scholar Athlete of the Year and is a four-time C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll member.
The Fighting Owl Award, which is given to the player who has demonstrated exceptional toughness and has preserved, was given to senior Memri Carmon. Carmon had missed all of the 2009-10 season and an injury, but battled back and was a key contributor to the Owls' success in 2010-11. The Beaumont native competed in 27 games and made 14 three-pointers in shooting 31 percent from three-point range.
The Most Improved Award was awarded to junior Brianna Hypolite and senior Morgan Mayse. Hypolite was third on the squad in scoring at 11.0 ppg after averaging 3.4 points one season ago. Furthermore, Hypolite, from Dickinson, Texas, started in every game this season after zero starts her first two years.
Mayse, really stepped up her game once C-USA action began. She averaged 11.3 points overall for the season, but averaged 15.1 in C-USA. The Athens, Texas, native also was third on the team with 30 three-pointers made after making 14 one season ago.
Sophomore Jessica Goswitz earned the Owls' Defensive Award. The Knoxville, Tenn., native, guarded the opponent's top three-point threat in each game and held that player below her season average.
For next season, head coach Greg Williams returns four starters including point guard D'Frantz Smart, Goswitz, Hypolite, and Kuster. Smart broke the Rice season record with 189 assists and led C-USA in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.2. Joining the squad are three freshman, Maya Adeutla from Mansfield, Texas, and Mansfield HS, Megan Shafer from The Woodlands (College Park HS), and Nikki Maduka, of Arlington, Texas and Martin HS.