Bowling Green, Ky. — Two members of the Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team were named to the all-Sun Belt Conference team for the first time in their careers on Tuesday when the league released the 2008-09 squad. Sophomore forward Arnika Brown earned first-team honors, while junior guard Kenzie Rich was named to the third team.
Brown is in line to have the best rebounding season in the history of Lady Topper basketball. The 6-foot-1 forward is averaging a league-best 11.6 rebounds per game on the season — which also stands as the fifth-best average in the nation. That is also nearly a full rebound per game better than the current Lady Topper single-season record of 10.8 set by Shea Lunsford during the 1998-99 campaign. Her 325 boards on the season are the third-most in school history, and just 27 away from equaling Crystal Kelly’s single-season mark. Brown set a school record earlier this season when she pulled down 21 rebounds in a win at Florida International. That was one of two 20-rebound efforts on the season, making her the first player in school history to pull down 20 or more boards twice in a career.
While her rebounding numbers are on a record pace, Brown’s scoring numbers also rank among the league’s best. Her team-high 14.4 points per game rank eighth in the Sun Belt Conference. She has also posted a total of 17 double-doubles this season. Brown has scored in double figures 20 times this season, and has led the Lady Toppers in scoring 10 times.
Rich enters the postseason close behind Brown’s scoring numbers, as she ranks second on the team and ninth in the conference at 14.2 points per game. The Tompkinsville, Ky., product became the 31st Lady Topper to reach 1,000 career points on Feb. 14, 2009 when she dropped in a season-high 24 points at Troy. She has already scored a career-high 398 points this season, while shooting 39.8 percent from the field and knocking down a team-high 62 three pointers. In fact, she ranks fourth in the Sun Belt with 2.21 made threes per game, and is second in the league with a .841 free-throw percentage. Rich has scored in double figures in 21 of WKU’s 28 games, and finished with 20 or more points seven times.
WKU finished the regular season at 16-12 and 10-8 in the Sun Belt Conference. It will open conference tournament play on Wednesday at 7 p.m. (CST) when it hosts Louisiana-Monroe in a first-round game at E.A. Diddle Arena.
First Team All-Sun Belt Conference
Arnika Brown (WKU, So., F)
Chastity Reed (UALR, So., F)
Alysha Clark (Middle Tennessee, R-Jr., F)
Amber Jackson (North Texas, Sr., F)
Kylie Morrissy (Troy, Sr., G/F)
Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference
Anshel Cooper (UALR, Jr., G)
Monika Bosilj (FIU, Jr., G)
Jada Frazier (New Orleans, Sr., G)
Shakira Nettles (South Alabama, Jr., G)
Jessica Starling (South Alabama, Sr., G)
Third Team All-Sun Belt Conference
Kenzie Rich (WKU, Jr., G)
Alexis Green (Louisiana-Lafayette, Jr., F)
Lottie Moore (ULM, Sr., G)
Brandi Brown (Middle Tennessee, Jr., F)
Chelsia Lymon (Middle Tennessee, Jr., G)
Player of the Year: Alysha Clark (Middle Tennessee, R-Jr., F)
Defensive Player of the Year: Chelsia Lymon (Middle Tennessee, R-Jr., F)
Newcomer of the Year: Alysha Clark (Middle Tennessee, R-Jr., F)
Freshman of the Year: Kaetlyn Murdoch (Denver, Fr., F.)
Coach of the Year: Rick Insell, Middle Tennessee