Glendive native named Defensive Player of the Year in the Big Sky Conference
Montana junior guard Kellie Cole was voted first-team All-Big Sky Conference by the league’s coaches, the Big Sky office announced Monday.
Senior forward Jordan Sullivan was named second-team All-Big Sky, senior guard Torry Hill earned honorable-mention honors, and redshirt junior forward Carly Selvig was voted the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.
It was the first Big Sky Conference postseason award for any of the four Lady Griz recognized.
Montana went 20-9 during the regular season and finished third in the Big Sky Conference with a 14-6 league record. The Lady Griz finished one game behind regular-season co-champions North Dakota and Southern Utah.
North Dakota senior Madi Buck was named the league MVP and was the only member of the six-player first team to be a unanimous selection.
Cole and Buck were joined on the first team by Idaho State senior forward Lindsey Reed, Northern Arizona senior guard Amanda Frost, Eastern Washington junior guard Lexie Nelson and Southern Utah junior guard Hailey Mandelko.
Nelson was the only repeat selection on the first team.
Cole had just one career start through her first two seasons entering 2013-14, but she quickly developed into the team’s most consistent scorer this winter.
During the Big Sky schedule, Cole averaged 15.6 points on 48.7 percent shooting. She also shot 47.5 percent from 3-point range and was an 80 percent free throw shooter. More than just a scorer, she also averaged 5.0 rebounds per game during league and finished second to Hill in assists.
“Kellie was a good player for us, but she stepped it up a notch this year,” said UM coach Robin Selvig. “Her numbers were really good in league, and she was a consistent scorer for us all year. She just had a heck of a year.”
Sullivan averaged 12.6 points during league games and grabbed a Big Sky-leading 8.4 rebounds per game. Her 3-point shooting percentage of .465 ranked second in the Big Sky only to Cole.
Sullivan was twice named the Big Sky Player of the Week during the conference season and had four of her five double-doubles this season against league opponents, including back-to-back efforts last week that sends Montana into this week’s Big Sky tournament on a three-game winning streak.
The five-player second team was made up of Sullivan, Montana State senior forward Ashley Brumwell, Northern Colorado junior center Stephanie Lee, North Dakota sophomore forward Mia Loyd and Southern Utah sophomore forward Lori Parkinson.
To earn honorable-mention honors, Hill received at least one second-team vote from an opposing coach, and that coach could have made a convincing argument.
Hill, at 11.9 points per game during league, gave Montana a third scoring threat, and her 103 assists ranked second only to Sacramento State’s Fantasia Hilliard. Hill also tied for third with 46 steals, just three behind Frost, who led the league.
Hill ranks seventh in Lady Griz history in steals with 191 and eighth in assists with 423. She became the 30th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points late in Saturday’s home win over Northern Arizona.
Hill was one of eight players to earn honorable-mention honors.
Selvig blocked 56 shots (2.8/g) during Big Sky play, 17 more than any other player, and her season average of 2.76 ranks 17th in the nation, even though she plays a little more than 22 minutes per game.
Selvig’s presence in the paint was a big reason Montana allowed just 64.0 points on 37.9 percent shooting during league games. Both numbers ranked second in the league.
“I’m glad Carly was recognized, because she’s a game-changer on that end of the floor,” Selvig said. “There were a number of games this year when we didn’t shoot well but still won, and that happens because of the job you do on the defensive end.”
Kelsey Knox, a UND sophomore who transferred from Johnson County (Kan.) Community College, was voted Top Newcomer; Northern Arizona’s Brittani Lusain, who had 25 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists against the Lady Griz Saturday, was named Outstanding Freshman; and North Dakota’s Emily Evers and Southern Utah’s Andrea Jones shared Sixth Player of the Year honors.