Bowling Green, Ky. — The Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team officially put a wrap on a championship 2007-08 season at the annual postseason awards banquet Thursday evening at E.A. Diddle Arena.
For the fourth straight season, senior forward Crystal Kelly — who just yesterday was the 31st overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft by the Houston Comets – was named the team’s Most Valuable Player. Kelly was also the recipient of the Coach’s Award. Junior Dominique Duck was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year, while freshman Arnika Brown took Rookie-of-the-Year honors. Sophomore Kenzie Rich was given the Free Throw Accuracy Award.
Kelly was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year in 2008, and also earned State Farm Coaches’ All-America honors. She was also an All-America selection by the Associated Press and cbssportsline.com. A first-team all-Sun Belt Conference selection each of her four years at WKU, Kelly finished her career as both the school and Sun Belt Conference all-time leading scorer with 2,803 points. She also holds the Lady Topper career rebounding mark with 1,258, and finished with a school-record .641 field-goal percentage during her senior season. Her scoring total also places her 12th on the NCAA Division I career scoring list. She became third Lady Topper to ever have a jersey retired in her honor, and became the first WKU student-athlete ever to receive the honor while still an active player.
Duck not only put up great offensive numbers in her third season as a Lady Topper, but also had a career year at the defensive end of the floor. She posted career highs in both steals (43) and blocked shots (32). She also pulled down a career-high 151 rebounds. Duck recorded multiple blocked shots in nine games last season, including as career-high four rejections in the season opener against East Tennessee State. She also finished with a season-high four steals on two occasions.
Despite playing just half the season due to NCAA transfer rules, Brown made an immediate impact on the Lady Toppers in the second half of the season, and earned Sun Belt Freshman-of-the-Year honors. She averaged 10.3 points per game in 24 games and pulled down 7.6 rebounds per game. Brown posted four double-doubles on the year, and averaged 12.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game during the Sun Belt Tournament en route to a spot on the all-tournament team.
Rich made 73 trips to the free throw line during her sophomore season, connecting on 64 to finish with an 87.7 free-throw percentage. Nearly a quarter of her attempts from the charity stripe came in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament as she went to the line 18 times in the three games. She finished 16-for-18 (.889) in the three games of the tournament, knocking down key free throws late in all three games to help secure a tournament championship for the Lady Toppers. Rich also had nine games where she went perfect from the stripe.
The Lady Toppers finished off the 2007-08 season with a 26-8 record, and won the Sun Belt Conference East Division championship for the fifth time in the last six seasons with a 16-2 league record. The went on the capture a league-record ninth Sun Belt Tournament championship, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 16th time in the program‘s history.