Vandals earn postseason honors
OGDEN, Utah — Senior Mikayla Ferenz was selected Big Sky Most Valuable Player, headlining the Vandals’ historic postseason award cleanup for the program. Fellow senior Taylor Pierce voted to All-Big Sky First Team while Gina Marxen earned Idaho’s first-ever Freshman of the Year award. Head coach Jon Newlee took home Big Sky Coach of the Year honor. The awards were voted on by the 11 Big Sky women’s basketball head coaches.
Ferenz and Pierce were unanimous first-team honorees.
Ferenz was named to the All-Big Sky First Team, which make her the first player in program history to become a three-time All-Conference selection. Idaho and the Big Sky’s all-time leading scorer finished conference play averaging 23.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. She shot a remarkable 46.4 percent from the field and made 3.48 three-pointers per game, which is good for eighth best in the nation. Ferenz ranks in the top 10 in five NCAA statistical categories. This is Ferenz’s as well as the program’s, first Big Sky MVP honor.
In her rookie season, Gina Marxen stood out to the league’s coaches and was voted as Freshman of the Year. Marxen earned her spot in the starting five after proving to be capable of quarterbacking the squad as point guard for 29 games.
She also proved to be an offensive threat as she shot the three ball at a 46.4 percent clip. Marxen worked her way up in the conference rankings averaging two triples per game, fourth in the Big Sky. In conference play, she averaged 9.9 points per game and 4.2 assists. Marxen stepped up when games were on the line helping the Vandals to a number one seed in the Big Sky Championship Tournament.
Senior Taylor Pierce earned herself her first All-Big Sky First Team honor. The Big Sky all-time leader in threes averaged 21.5 points per game with most of those points coming from behind the arc. She leads the nation in three-point field goals with 132 and three-point field goals made per game with 4.55. Not only does she lead the country, but she has led the conference in three-point shooting since the start of the conference season. Pierce finished the conference with an astounding average of 42.3 percent from three land and 41.9 percent from the field.
Head coach Newlee nets his first Big Sky Coach of the Year honor as leader of the Vandals, his third career in the league, after leading the Vandals to 16 wins and a league title. It is the school’s first Big Sky league championship in women’s basketball since 1985. Newlee has earned five conference coach of the year honors in his career.
Ferenz, Marxen and Pierce and the rest of the Vandals are now Boise bound for the Big Sky Championship Tournament. The women’s tournament begins on Monday, March 11, but Idaho will not play until Tuesday, March 12 as they earned a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed in the tourney. Idaho will face the winner of Monday’s game between Sacramento State and Northern Arizona. Tip is slated for Tuesday at noon MT/11 a.m. PT.
Violet Kapri Morrow, Eastern Washington
Hannah Friend, Sacramento State
Ashley Bolston, Portland State
Saylair Grandon, Idaho State
Jace Henderson, Montana
Kaleigh Paplow, Northern Arizona
Claire Lundberg, Montana State
Oliana Squires, Montana State
Ali Meyer, Northern Colorado
J’aiamoni Welch-Coleman, Weber State
Honorable Mention – Received at least three votes
Rebecca Cardenas, Southern Utah
Krystal Leger-Walker, Northern Colorado
Kylie Jimenez, Portland State
Kennedy Nicholas, Sacramento State
Estafania Ors, Idaho State
Grace Kirscher, Eastern Washington
Most Valuable Player
Mikayla Ferenz , Idaho
Newcomer of the Year
Claire Lundberg, Montana State
Freshman of the Year
Gina Marxen , Idaho
Defensive Player of the Year
Courtney West, Portland State
Uriah Howard, Eastern Washington
Desirae Hansen, Portland State
Coach of the Year
Jon Newlee , Idaho