Women's Basketball Regular Season Awards Announced

HARTFORD, Conn. - The All-BIG EAST First Team spans student-athletes from eight schools and is highlighted by unanimous first team selections Skylar Diggins, a junior guard from Notre Dame, and Anna Martin, a junior guard from DePaul.
Connecticut freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis earned the BIG EAST Sixth Man Award and USF senior guard Jasmine Wynne was selected as the BIG EAST Most Improved Player. DePaul senior Deanna Ortiz and St. John's senior Da'Shena Stevens each earned honors for the BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award, while Notre Dame graduate student Devereaux Peters was chosen as the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year for the second-straight year.
The awards were announced prior to the start of the 2012 BIG EAST Women's Basketball Championship Presented by American Eagle Outfitters, held March 2-6 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The awards for the BIG EAST Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year will be revealed at a press conference on March 2 at the XL Center at 5 p.m. ET.
Mosqueda-Lewis earned the league's Sixth Man award, the second player from Connecticut to earn the honor. Mosqueda-Lewis played in all 30 games. She is second on the team and 12th in the league in scoring, averaging 14.4 points per game. Mosqueda-Lewis was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week eight times during the 2011-12 season and earned honors as the BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year in a vote by the league's coaches. The freshman forward ranks fourth in 3-point field goals made (2.5) and sixth in 3-point field goal percentage (.379).
As the league's Most Improved Player, USF's Jasmine Wynne went from playing in only 16 games last year to playing in every game until suffering a concussion in the beginning of February. In the opening 24 games in which she played, she averaged almost 33 minutes per game. The senior went from averaging 3.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.8 apg and 0.8 steals per game last season to 15.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.5 apg and 2.8 steals per game in 2011-12. Wynne also went from being a 31-percent shooter to a 41-percent shooter. In her first three seasons at USF, she made 82 free throws in 139 attempts, but in 2011-12 she has made 100 free throws on 142 attempts.
Deanna Ortiz is the third DePaul player to earn the BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award. The Blue Demons' team captain, Ortiz was elected by her fellow student-athletes as the President of Captains' Council, which serves as an advisory board and also coordinates service projects for the entire athletics department. She volunteered for Misericordia Candy Days, St. Vincent DePaul Feed the Homeless Sandwich Drive, Sheffield Garden Walk, St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen and Aspire Children's Services Halloween Card Drive. Ortiz was invited to try out for the Puerto Rican Women's National Team. After DePaul lost five players to injury, Ortiz stepped into a more prominent role, starting 23 of DePaul's 29 games, including the last 17.
Da'Shena Stevens battled back from an offseason injury that sidelined her for four months. After the team captain sat out the first 10 games of the season, she made an immediate impact, averaging 10.6 ppg and 6.5 rpg in 14 games. In BIG EAST play, she has averaged a team-best 7.0 rebounds per game and has added 12.0 points. Upon her return, she has added the most assists and committed the fewest turnovers in her career. While sidelined with an injury, she helped her teammates on the bench as a mentor. Stevens maintains a 3.46 cumulative GPA as an accounting major and is a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Candidate. The three-time BIG EAST All-Academic Team honoree is active in the community, participating in several service projects. She led the holiday food and toy collection and distribution drive and volunteers twice a month at St. Nick's Men's Shelter and the Providence House Women's Shelter. Stevens also led the team-sponsored Community Mayor project for area youth and was a Peer Educator for St. John's Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
Peters repeats as BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year. Prior to last year, she is the most recent Notre Dame player to grab the award since 2000-01, with Notre Dame having four players earn the honor in the 14-year history of the award. Peters was also named to the All-BIG EAST First Team. Peters is averaging a team-high 9.5 rebounds per game to go along with 52 blocks this season. She ranks second in the conference in rebounding and fourth in blocked shots (1.7 bpg). She has grabbed 62 steals and is averaging 12.2 points per game. Peters has helped lead a defense that ranks seventh in the nation, allowing 51.6 points per game. Notre Dame also has the ninth-highest rebound margin (+10.0).
Notre Dame leads the All-BIG EAST First Team with three selections, junior Skylar Diggins, senior Natalie Novosel and graduate student Devereaux Peters. All three were on the BIG EAST First Team last year as well. UConn landed two players on the list in senior Tiffany Hayes and sophomore Bria Hartley. Hayes was honored on the first team last season, while Hartley was on both the second team and the All-Freshman Team. DePaul junior Anna Martin makes her first appearance as an all-conference selection, while Georgetown junior Sugar Rodgers is on the first team for the third-straight year. Louisville sophomore Shoni Schimmel made her way onto the first team after being an honorable mention selection last season. Rutgers senior Khadijah Rushdan was named to the first team after earning a spot on the second team in 2010-11. St. John's junior Shenneika Smith was a member of the second team last season. West Virginia junior Asya Bussie rounds out the first team, her first honor since being named to the All-Freshman Team in 2009-10.
The BIG EAST Player of the Year, BIG EAST Coach of the Year, BIG EAST Freshman of the Year and American Eagle Outfitters BIG EAST Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be announced on Friday, March 2 between sessions 1 and 2 at approximately 5 p.m. ET following the completion of the Game 2 press conferences. The awards press conference will be streamed live on www.bigeast.org.
BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year
Devereaux Peters, Notre Dame, Gr., F
BIG EAST Sixth Man Award
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Connecticut, Fr., F
BIG EAST Most Improved Player
Jasmine Wynne, USF, Sr., G
BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award
Deanna Ortiz, DePaul, Sr., G
Da'Shena Stevens, St. John's, Sr., F
All-BIG EAST First Team
Bria Hartley, Connecticut, So., G
Tiffany Hayes, Connecticut, Sr., G
*Anna Martin, DePaul, Jr., G
Sugar Rodgers, Georgetown, Jr., G
Shoni Schimmel, Louisville, So., G
*Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame, Jr., G
Natalie Novosel, Notre Dame, Sr., G
Devereaux Peters, Notre Dame, Gr., F
Khadijah Rushdan, Rutgers, R-Sr., G
Shenneika Smith, St. John's, Jr., G
Asya Bussie, West Virginia, Jr., C
All-BIG EAST Second Team
Dayeesha Hollins, Cincinnati, R-So., G
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Connecticut, Fr., F
April Sykes, Rutgers, Sr., G/F
Nadirah McKenith, St. John's, Jr., G
Da'Shena Stevens, St. John's, Sr., F
Jasmine Crew, Seton Hall, Sr., G
Jasmine Wynne, USF, Sr., G
Kayla Alexander, Syracuse, Jr., C
Iasia Hemingway, Syracuse, Sr., F
Laura Sweeney, Villanova, Jr., F
BIG EAST Honorable Mention
Stefanie Dolson, Connecticut, So., C
Katherine Harry, DePaul, Jr., F
Tia Magee, Georgetown, Sr., F
Katherine Plouffe, Marquette, So., F
Monique Oliver, Rutgers, Jr., F/C
Christal Caldwell, West Virginia, R-So., G
BIG EAST All-Freshman Team
*Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Connecticut, Fr., F
Kiah Stokes, Connecticut, Fr., C
*Brittany Hrynko, DePaul, Fr., G
*Bria Smith, Louisville, Fr., G
Arlesia Morse, Marquette, Fr., G
*Brianna Kiesel, Pittsburgh, Fr., G
Betnijah Laney, Rutgers, Fr., G/F
Amber Thompson, St. John's, Fr., F
Lauren Burford, Villanova, R-Fr., F
Linda Stepney, West Virginia, Fr., G
*Unanimous selection