BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- Western Kentucky University’s Lady Topper Basketball honored the 2013-14 team at a postseason banquet on Monday evening in the Jack and Jackie Harbaugh Stadium Club at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium.
Six individual honors were presented to seven different Lady Toppers on Monday evening, including a new award in honor of graduating seniors Bianca McGee and Chaney Means.
Redshirt freshman Kendall Noble and sophomore Micah Jones were awarded the inaugural Most Improved Player award. Noble made major strides over the course of the season, increasing her scoring average from 5.0 points per game in non-league games to 14.1 in conference games. Jones made improvement across the board from her freshman year to sophomore season, increasing her scoring average by 4.4 points per outing and her shooting percentage by .106 and three-point percentage by .103.
Junior Chastity Gooch was named the team’s Most Valuable Player. Gooch finished her junior season ranked 18th on WKU's career scoring list at 1,322 points. She will enter the 2014-15 season needing 22 points to tie Dominique Duck for 17th place on the all-time list. When WKU was facing off against the best teams in the nation, Gooch was at her best. Gooch averaged 22.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in two games against teams ranked in the Associated Press' top five.
Junior Alexis Govan was named the “Big Red Award” winner for her courageousness this season. The new award is to be given annually for an individual that is everything a teammate needs to be. Govan played in just 11 games in 2013-14 due to a stress fracture in her left tibia.
Freshman Bria Gaines was named the “6th Man Award” winner. Gaines made a major offensive impact late in the season for WKU. Gaines scored 73 points in 119 minutes during WKU's last eight games, including a 21 point, 10 rebounds performance in just 20 minutes of play in a win at Georgia State to close out the regular season.
Noble was also named the Deflection Award winner for 2013-14. Noble finished the year with 76 steals, including an astounding 66 in games played on or after Jan. 15.
Finally, graduating seniors Chaney Means and Bianca McGee were awarded the new “McGee/Means Award,” to be given annually to a player who epitomizes a team player and has a team first attitude. The senior duo helped lay the foundation for the resurgence of Lady Topper Basketball.
In addition, five players were recognized for their academic achievement with Jones and freshman Kierra Muhammad being recognized for holding a 4.0 GPA and junior Ileana Johnson, Means and Noble holding a GPA of 3.4 or better.
WKU (24-9, 13-5) reached the NCAA Tournament for the 17th time in program history after securing the Sun Belt Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by posting a 61-60 win over Arkansas State in the title game of the Sun Belt Conference Championships. WKU scored 18 of the final 22 points of the game to beat Red Wolves, marking the fourth time during the 2013-14 season that WKU had overcome a double-digit deficit to win a game. In the NCAA Tournament, WKU fell to fifth-ranked Baylor in Waco, Texas on March 22, 2014 by a final score of 87-74 after the game stayed within a single-digit margin for much of the game, including a late first half lead for WKU.
2013-14 Lady Topper Basketball Team Awards
Most Improved Player: Kendall Noble and Micah Jones
Most Valuable Player: Chastity Gooch
Big Red Award: Alexis Govan
Sixth Man Award: Bria Gaines
Deflection Award: Kendall Noble
McGee/Means Award: Bianca McGee and Chaney Means
Academic Recognitions (4.0 GPA): Micah Jones and Kierra Muhammad
Academic Recongitions (3.4 GPA or better): Ileana Johnson, Chaney Means, Kendall Noble