Future Lady Topper Gaines Named Times' Illinois Player ofthe Year

By: Robert Sampson - WKU Athletic Media Relations
By: Robert Sampson - WKU Athletic Media Relations

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Western Kentucky University women’s basketball signee Bria Gaines was named the Northwest Indiana Times Illinois Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, the publication announced on Sunday.

Gaines, a 6-foot-2 forward, finished the 2012-13 season with 23.7 points and 16.9 rebounds per game, posting a double-double in all but one game this season. For her career, Gaines scored 1,593 points and grabbed 879 rebounds. Gaines averaged 27.3 points, 16.5 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game during her junior season at Bloom Township HS.

Gaines is joined in the incoming recruiting class by 6-foot forward Aleeya Harris (San Antonio, Texas; John Jay HS), 5-foot-4 point guard Kierra Muhammad (Lexington, Ky.; Paul Laurence Dunbar HS) and 6-foot-4 center Ruta Savickaite (Lithuania, Savickaite via Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn.).

In her first year as coach of the Lady Toppers, Clark-Heard engineered one of the nation’s best turnarounds. She led WKU to 12 additional wins over the prior season, tying the Sun Belt Conference record for largest winning improvement. She also helped WKU to eight additional conference wins over the prior season, tying the league record. Following the regular season, she was named the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year.

The Lady Toppers will learn their postseason fate on Monday night.

Led by sophomores Alexis Govan and Chastity Gooch, WKU enters postseason play with a 21-10 overall record, including a 13-7 mark in Sun Belt Conference play. Govan, one of the top scorers in program history, averaged 20.1 points per game this season. Govan reached a major milestone in WKU’s semifinal appearance in the Sun Belt Conference Championships by reaching the 600-point mark for the season. She became the 21st player in the combined history of Lady Topper Basketball and Hilltopper Basketball to reach the mark in a single season and the 10th Lady Topper to reach the mark. Gooch, the school’s single-season leader in double-doubles, was named the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year earlier this month. Gooch averaged 15.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game this year.

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