MINNEAPOLIS — Aliyah Boston has dominated women’s college basketball on both sides of the court this season.
The junior forward helped South Carolina become the No. 1 team in the nation, posting an SEC-record 27 straight doubles, and she helped put the Gamecocks two wins away from the program’s second national championship. .
Boston was honored Thursday as Women’s Basketball Player of the Year by The Associated Press. She is the second player from South Carolina to receive the award, joining former Gamecocks great A’ja Wilson.
“You don’t often get the full package. I think that recognition is for what she was able to do on both sides of the ball,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “Player of the Year is usually for offensive-minded people who think that when you put the ball in the hole, you should be named Player of the Year. She’s the complete package. Every day.”
Boston received 23 votes from the 30-member National Media Panel that votes weekly for the AP’s Top 25. Caitlin Clark of Iowa received six votes and NaLyssa Smith of Baylor got one.
Boston is averaging 16.8 points, 12 rebounds and 2.6 blocks this year.
AP COACH OF THE YEAR: Kim Mulkey knew she had a rebuilding plan when she took over as LSU coach this season.
The longtime Baylor coach quickly managed to orchestrate an incredible turnaround for the Tigers, who won 26 games, up 17 from last season.
Mulkey has been honored as Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year by The Associated Press, the third time she has won the award. Geno Auriemma and Muffet McGraw are the only other coaches to have accomplished the feat.
“I’m certainly honored to be in this group,” Mulkey said. “That doesn’t happen without players allowing you to train them and buy into a system. We’ve had a very, very good year.
Mulkey received 10 votes from the 30-member national media panel that votes on the AP Top 25 each week. South Carolina Dawn Staley finished second with eight votes. Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer got three and Nicki Collen, who replaced Mulkey at Baylor, got two with NC State’s Wes Moore. Five coaches got one vote each.
Mulkey, who was surprised by her team last week telling her they had won, thanked her coaches and individually named each of her players at the ceremony. She choked up talking about her family, which was still in Texas.
LSU moved up to 6th in the AP poll and hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers lost to Ohio State in the second round and finished with 25+ wins for the first time since the 2007-08 season. Mulkey likened this season to her first at Baylor when she inherited a team that won just seven games the year before she took charge.
“You set realistic goals, like having a winning season,” she said. “Beat your first ranked team, we’re going to celebrate. In conference, if we finish in the first half of the SEC, then we can potentially advance to the NCAA Tournament. It seems so simple, but you have to crawl before you can walk and walk before we could race. We were just being realistic.
The Tigers went 13-3 in the tough Southeastern Conference and picked up wins over Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky. Mulkey’s team also played tough in South Carolina, dropping just six points.
WEST VIRGINIA: South Dakota women’s basketball coach Dawn Plitzuweit, who led the Coyotes on a surprising run to the Sweet 16, has been hired to coach in West Virginia.
Plitzuweit replaces Mike Carey, who retired two weeks ago after 21 seasons.
South Dakota defeated Ole Miss and second seed Baylor in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Michigan, 52-49. The Coyotes finished the season 29-6.
SLOW: Jack Nunge made the tee shot with 3.1 seconds left and Xavier won his first NIT championship in 64 years, rallying for a 73-72 win over Texas A&M at Madison Square Garden.
Colby Jones scored 21 points for the Musketeers (23-13) and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. Dwon Odom added 18 points and Nunge had 15 points and 11 rebounds to help Xavier erase a 10-point deficit under interim coach Jonas Hayes.
It was the last National Invitation Tournament title game at Madison Square Garden in at least two years – ending a college basketball tradition that dates back to 1938.
MSG will not host the semi-finals and finals in 2023 and 2024, the NIT announced on Monday, saying it had launched a bidding process to find new venues for those years and that an announcement is expected this spring.
Quenton Jackson had 23 points for the Aggies (27-13), shut out of the NCAA Tournament despite reaching the SEC Finals, where they lost to Tennessee. It was a surprising snub from the selection committee that drew criticism from Aggies coach Buzz Williams and others.
SYRACUSE: Reserve center Frank Anselem, who played a bigger role in the final nine games of the season after starter Jesse Edwards broke his wrist, enters the transfer gate.
The 6ft 10in Nigerian player announced his decision on social media.
OUR LADY: First-year guard Blake Wesley has announced he is entering the NBA draft.
The 6-foot-5 guard, who averages a team-leading 14.4 points for his hometown Fighting Irish, tweeted his intention. Wesley later told ESPN he was one and done at Notre Dame after helping the Irish to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in five years.
Wesley was an Indiana All-Star at Riley High School and South Bend Public School Notre Dame’s first basketball prospect since 1985. He got his first start for the Irish and hit the game-winning shot in a 66-62 win over the then No.1. 10 Kentucky on December 11 at the Purcell Pavilion. He shot 40.4% from the field and averaged 3.7 rebounds, along with 84 assists and 44 steals. He earned second-team All-ACC honors.
WISCONSIN: Johnny Davis is ready to turn pro after delivering a superb second season.
Davis announced he was entering the NBA draft and hiring an agent. The 6-foot-5 guard is considered a likely lottery pick and could be Wisconsin’s top-10 pick since the Charlotte Hornets took ninth-overall Frank Kaminsky in 2015.
ST. JOSEPH’S 13, NEW ENGLAND COLLEGE 4: Timothy Goodfellow scored five goals as St. Joseph’s ended a two-game losing streak by beating New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire.
Xavier Michaud scored three goals and three assists for the Monks (2-7). Noah Tierney-Honan added two goals and Wyatt LeBlanc had three assists against the Pilgrims (1-7)
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