NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Saint Louis’ junior guard Jackie Kemph was named the Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Player of the Year while La Salle coach Jeff Williams was voted A-10 Coach of the Year. The league announced its annual awards Tuesday in advance of the A-10 Championship heading to the Richmond Coliseum for the quarterfinals, semifinals and final, which Friday.
Dayton’s Kelley Austria was named the Defensive Player of the Year, while Massachusetts freshman Hailey Leidel received Rookie of the Year honors. Davidson’s Justine Lyon was named the league’s Most Improved Player. Saint Joseph’s Chelsea Woods was named the Sixth Woman of the Year.
The major awards, the 15-member All-Conference teams, the All-Defensive and All-Rookie teams were all nominated and voted by the league’s 14 head coaches. The women’s basketball sports information directors selected the All-Academic team.
Kemph, earning her second consecutive player of the year honor, leads the Billikens in scoring at 14.6 points per game, which ranked sixth in the Atlantic 10. Her 7.5 assists per game leads the A-10 and ranks fourth in the nation. She also ranks second in the A-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3) and 10th in free throw percentage (.777).
Williams guided the Explorers, who were selected 12th in the preseason poll, to a record of 17-12 overall and 9-7 in the Atlantic 10. The 9-7 mark represented an improvement of seven wins in league play from the previous season for Williams, who is in his seventh season. La Salle secured the sixth seed for the A-10 Championship, advancing to the quarterfinals following a win over No. 11 St. Bonaventure in the first round.
Austria, a two-time All-Defensive Team honoree, returned in 2016-17 following an ACL injury that caused her to miss the majority of the previous season. She finished eighth in the A-10 in steals with 1.7 per game, fourth in steals in conference games (2.1) and helped anchor a Dayton defense that had the best field goal percentage defense in league play (.338).
Leidel, a three-time Rookie of the Week award winner, finished fourth in the A-10 in scoring at 15.5 points per game. She shot 39.2 percent from 3-point range and led the A-10 in 3-pointers made (78).
Woods averaged 13.7 points and 6.8 rebounds along with shooting 84.4 percent from the charity stripe while coming off the bench for Saint Joseph’s. Woods played in 26 of Saint Joseph’s 29 games, starting 11 contests.
Lyon earned Most Improved honors this season after increasing her scoring average from 5.7 points per game to 15.7 points per game this season and 19.5 in league games. Lyon scored in double figures in 20 of Davidson’s 28 games and had a team-best eight games with 20 or more points including two 30-point performances.
The 2017 Atlantic 10 Championship quarterfinals begin Friday with games carried by American Sports Network (ASN). The Semifinals begin Saturday at 11:00 am on CBS Sports Network and the Championship final is Sunday at Noon on ESPNU.