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Wombles named MSC player of the year

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- University of the Cumberlands senior forward Lauren Wombles is the 2011-12 Mid-South Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Year, the conference announced tonight at its annual banquet.

Wombles is one of 10 women's basketball student-athletes to earn all-conference first-team honors as voted on by the conference coaches. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players.

Nine more student-athletes earned All MSC Second Team for their play during the season.

In addition to Wombles, Campbellsville's Courtney Clifton and Mackenzie Lee; Cumberlands' Jade Howard; Georgetown College's Andrea Howard; Lindsey Wilson College's Ashley Rainey; Shawnee State University's Abby Ballman and Alannah Sheets; St. Catharine College's Janae Howard; and University of Virginia's College at Wise's Chelsea Cluesman earns first-team all-conference this season.

Wombles ranks in the conference's top-five in six individual categories, including leading the MSC in scoring at 19.4 points per game. She is third in the conference in field goal percentage (49.0) and free throw percentage (83.6). She finished fourth in the MSC following regular season play in rebounds (8.1) and steals (2.5) and fifth in the conference with 10 double-doubles.

Nationally, Wombles ranks fifth in scoring, 15th in free throw percentage and 24th in field goal percentage.

Lindsey Wilson's Monny Niamke was voted MSC Freshman of the Year by the league coaches after averaging 12.6 points, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game during the season for the Blue Raiders.

Ballman is the Mid-South Conference's Champions of Character recipient. She earned the award -- as voted on by the conference athletics directors -- for her civic and servant leadership within the campus and community.

Cumberlands' Melissa Irvin and Georgetown's Andrea McCloskey were selected by their peers as MSC Co-Coaches of the Year.

Irvin led the Patriots to a share of the MSC regular season title while McCloskey led the Tigers to a third place finish in her first year as Georgetown's coach.

Haley Ratliff (Cumberlands), Devon Golden and Jessica Waddle (Georgetown), Jasmine Brimm (Lindsey Wilson), Kaylee Helton and Shardae Morrison-Fountain (Rio Grande), Alex Pohl (Shawnee State) and Kasei Evans and Courtney Milam (St. Catharine) were named honorable mention all-conference.

Thirty-nine student-athletes earned academic all-conference for maintaining at least a 3.25 grade point average on a 4.0 scale and being a sophomore or higher standing.

Campbellsville's Clifton, Lee, Katie Allen, Hayley Hellyer, Megan Issacs and Mary Jehlik; Cumberlands' Wombles, Jackie Alexander, Haley Ratliff, Thali Rodrigues and Jessica Upchurch; Georgetown's Golden, Howard, Waddle, Gina Beining, Lindsay Fultz, Lizza Jonas and Mikkah Rogers; Lindsey Wilson's Michelle Copley, Ashley Franklin, Sarah Gillis, Stacia Jo Hill, Samantha Johnson and Tiffany Williams; Pikeville's Kendra Badgett, Brogan Conley, Jennifer Grant and Brittany Swindall; Rio Grande's Iliana Gonzalez; Shawnee State's Ballman and Tristan Rumfield; St. Catharine's Machera Calhoun and Reilly Poirier; and UVa.-Wise's Cluesman, Jaydee Brewer, Emily Doane, Kristin Mullins, Christine Nyobe and Charlotte Reason earned academic all-conference.

The Mid-South Conference Women's Basketball Tournament opens on Thursday with four quarterfinal games at the Frankfort Convention Center.

Top-seed Cumberlands faces eighth-seeded UVa.-Wise at 2 p.m. ET followed by No. 4-seed Campbellsville and No. 5-seed St. Catharine at 4 p.m. ET. No. 2-seed Shawnee State faces seventh-seeded Rio Grande at 6 p.m. ET and No. 3-seed Georgetown and sixth-seeded Lindsey Wilson play the nightcap at 8 p.m. ET.

Thursday's winners advance to Saturday's semifinals -- games are scheduled for 2 and 4 p.m. ET -- with the championship game set for 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 4.

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