University Sports

St. Mary's Colley named women's basketball player of year

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CIS Press Release
3/15/2013 6:14:49 PM
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Justine Colley, a fourth-year guard from Saint Mary's University, was named the CIS player of the year in women's basketball, Thursday night

The native of East Preston, N.S., became the first player from the Atlantic University Sport conference to receive the Nan Copp Award.

Other winners announced during the All-Canadian Gala held at the Casino Regina Show Lounge were Windsor point guard Miah-Marie Langlois, who was named defensive player of the year for the second straight season; McGill power forward Mariam Sylla, who captured the Kathy Shields Award as the nation's top freshman; Saint Mary's head coach Scott Munro, who received the Peter Ennis Award; Fraser Valley guard Alexa McCarthy, honoured with the Sylvia Sweeney Award which recognizes excellence in basketball, academics and community service; as well as Wilfrid Laurier guard Amber Hillis, who merited the Tracy MacLeod Award for her determination and perseverance.

NAN COPP AWARD (player of the year): Justine Colley, Saint Mary's

Colley was named to the first all-Canadian squad for the first time in her career, after receiving a second-team nod a year ago and earning a spot on the CIS all-rookie unit back in 2009-10. She has been selected a first-team AUS all-star each of her four campaigns with the Huskies.

This season, the 5-foot-9 guard captured her third straight CIS scoring crown thanks to a remarkable average 28.2 points per game, almost eight points per contest better than her closest rival (20.5). With her CIS-leading 565 total points in 20 league matches, she established a new AUS single-season mark. She recorded five double-doubles and scored 30 or more points in 11 of 20 games to lead Saint Mary's to first place in the AUS standings with an 18-2 record.

Make no mistake, however, the commerce student can do much more than just scoring. She also led the country in steals (3.9 per game), was tops in the AUS in assists (4.2) and ranked seventh in the Atlantic conference in rebounding (7.5). Her total steals (78), field goals (194) and free throws made (141) all rank first in the nation.

In just four university seasons, Colley has already set a new Saint Mary's school record for career points scored with 1,961, which ranks third on the AUS all-time list.

“Justine has had a tremendous, record-breaking season for the Huskies,” said coach Scott Munro. “Scoring is only part of the package however, as she has an impact on the game every time she plays, in so many other areas. She was among the league leaders in rebounding and field goal percentage, while leading the league in both steals and assists. Justine has great work ethic every single day at practice and is always focused on trying to get better, which has helped her get to this level. She has certainly raised the bar this season and is a very worthy recipient of this year's most valuable player award.”

The other finalists for the Nan Copp Award were Concordia guard Kaylah Barrett, Brock forward Nicole Rosenkranz and UBC guard Kris Young.

DEFENSIVE MVP: Miah-Marie Langlois, Windsor

For the second year in a row, Langlois is the CIS defensive player of the year.

The Windsor, Ontario native and fourth year point guard had another outstanding season for the Lancers as she helped lead her squad to an undefeated season and a No. 1 national ranking in the CIS.

As the OUA's defensive player of the year for the second year running, Langlois earned the award for her tenacity on defense, and the strength of a league high 3.2 steals per game and 6.3 rebounds per outing while being responsible for defending the opponents' top guard.

Thanks to Miah's solid all-around play, Windsor finished the regular season with a tremendous 21-0 record, a first place finish in the OUA West division for the fifth consecutive year, and their fourth OUA Championship in five seasons.

In addition to her defensive game, she also averaged 12.0 points per game and finished second in the CIS and first in the OUA with 6.0 assists per game. This year also marks her second straight year as a CIS first team all-Canadian, and her third straight year as an OUA west division all-star after being named to the first team last year, and the second team in 2010-11.

“It's a privilege for our entire Windsor Lancer family to have Miah receive this honour again,” said Windsor head coach Chantal Vallée. “She certainly is a force at both ends of the floors and she always responds with eagerness to get the job done, from stopping the opponent's best player to running the team at the point. Her defensive stats in the CIS speak for themselves and I believe her play this year was a big factor in our team's overall success.”

The other nominees for defensive-MVP honours were Memorial post Ally Forsey, Laval post Marie-Pascale Nadeau and Calgary guard Tamara Jarrett.

KATHY SHIELDS AWARD (rookie of the year): Mariam Sylla, McGill

A native of Conakry, Guinea, Sylla, a 6-foot-1 power forward, was named RSEQ rookie of the year and earned all-conference first-team honours in her university debut.

The 20-year-old pharmacology freshman was third among the league's scoring leaders and second in rebounding, averaging 14.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, respectively. She ranked fifth in field-goal shooting (39.6 %), seventh in free-throw shooting (71.7 %), second in blocked shots (17 in 16 games), first in offensive rebounds (4.4 rpg), and second in defensive rebounds (5.4 rpg).

“Mariam brings great raw athleticism and toughness to our team,” says Ryan Thorne, in his 10th season as head coach of the Martlets. “She is a great competitor who will sacrifice her body for the ball, which makes her a force on the boards. Her ability to knock down the 15-footer, makes her a threat both inside and out, which I believe has contributed largely to our team's success this season.”

Cape Breton forward Colleen Keane, McMaster guard Danielle Boiago and Victoria forward Jenna Bugiardini were also in the running for the Kathy Shields Award.

PETER ENNIS AWARD (coach of the year): Scott Munro, Saint Mary's

Munro is the first SMU bench boss to claim the Peter Ennis Award.

Now in his fifth season at the helm of the Huskies program, he guided Saint Mary's to a first place finish with an 18-2 regular season record this year, including an impressive 16-game winning streak to open the season.

His Huskies team led the conference in scoring (76.5 points per game) while allowing a league-low 63.7 points against. This year's total of 18 wins is the most ever in the history of the Saint Mary's women's basketball program.

Saint Mary's, which includes Justine Colley, the all-time leading scorer in school history, has been ranked in the top 5 of every CIS top 10 women's basketball poll this season.

Scott is a NCCP level three certified coach and has led the Nova Scotia provincial team nine times on both the men's and women's side as head coach. He was the head coach for Nova Scotia in the 2005 Canada Summer games, leading Nova Scotia to its first medal in 29 years and also led Nova Scotia's entry in the 2009 Games in Charlottetown PEI.

“Scott has a history of producing winners and this year is another example of his ability to bring the best out in his players on the court each game,” said Dr. David Murphy, director of athletics at Saint Mary's. “He understands the importance of academics and the balance of being the best student-athlete. Saint Mary's is extremely proud of his achievements.”

The other finalists for the Peter Ennis Award were Concordia's Keith Pruden, Ottawa's Andy Sparks and Calgary's Damian Jennings.

SYLVIA SWEENEY AWARD: Alexa McCarthy, Fraser Valley

McCarthy is the second Cascade to earn the Sylvia Sweeney Award. Michelle Buhler was the recipient in 2007-08.

McCarthy is active in several community service initiatives and takes on a key leadership role in UFV athletics as a whole. She has battled through an unfathomable number of injuries over the years to become a significant contributor to the team in 2012-13. Through all of her adversity she has always lead the team in reaching out to the community.

She has initiated, organized, and driven what has become a major UFV athletics community outreach initiative. The ‘Walk and Knock food bank drive' is an event where UFV athletes walk the community on Halloween evening collecting food for the Abbotsford food bank. In recent years, McCarthy has been participating in the Fraser Valley's chapter of the 'Operation Red Nose' program and has led UFV's CIS “Shoot for the Cure” drive at UFV. She is a three-time winner of the UFV athletics community service award and has thrice been recognized by the University of the Fraser Valley for her outstanding contribution and leadership with the community service she provides in our communities.

“Alexa has been a major contributor to UFV, the Athletics program and the Fraser Valley communities,” said Rocky Olfert, Fraser Valley athletic director. She has had a significant impact on the culture we are trying to create. Her efforts to continually put others before herself and model this as a student-athlete has been an inspiration to all of us.”

The Kinesiology major does the majority of the ground work, organization, recruitment of helpers and guest speakers for all the fund raising events for non-profit organizations involving the Cascades. She markets the event around campus, community and has been the major reason UFV have been able to increase our contribution to this cause in the three years she has been at UFV.

“I am very proud of Alexa's contributions to our program and the community,” said UFV women's basketball head coach Al Tuchscherer. “She is a true student-athlete playing, practicing, studying and contributing to the needs of others without asking for anything in return. Alexa is a role model for our program.”

Acadia's Lindsay Harris, UQAM's Camille Michaud and Carleton's Alyson Bush were also nominated for the Sylvia Sweeney Award.

TRACY MacLEOD AWARD: Amber Hillis, Wilfrid Laurier

From her first game as a Golden Hawk and throughout her career, Hillis has proved that pure determination can overcome any obstacle thrown her way.

At just 5-foot-3, she has never backed down from any opponent and has been a consistent five year starter at Laurier. During the 2010-2011 season, she was hospitalized with a serious and very painful back injury that forced her to miss several games. she was determined to contribute to the team, in any way possible, and she returned to the line-up for Laurier's playoff run, playing through the injury. In the off-season, it was discovered that Amber had a torn disc in her back. With hours and hours of ongoing therapy and strengthening, she has continued to play with and manage the injury the last 2 years of her career. To add to her challenges, in the 2011-2012 season, she suffered a concussion in the final regular season game and was not available for the playoffs.

Through these (and several other) injuries, Hillis' positive attitude has never changed. She continues to play with a reckless abandon, as she is the team's leader both on and off the court. Her perseverance has been an inspiration for her younger Golden Hawk teammates, as well as anyone who has had the opportunity to see her play. She finishes her career at Laurier ranked ninth all-time in scoring, third all-time in steals and assists, and fourth in minutes played.

“Amber is the toughest player I have coached at any level,” said Laurier head coach Paul Falco. “The past three seasons she has consistently played through pain in practices and games but she refuses to complain. She is a perfect example of what the Tracey McLeod award is all about.”

UNB's Laura Fowler and UBC's Zana Williams were also in the running for the Tracy MacLeod Award.

Justine Colley (Photo: Rob Weitzel)

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(Photo: Rob Weitzel)
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