School Record Four Lady Rebels Named All-MW

March 5, 2012


UNLV had a school-record four players named to the All-Mountain West Women’s Basketball teams, it was announced on Monday by the league office. In addition, the Lady Rebels also had two players selected to the Mountain West All-Defensive team, the first such selections in team history.

Lenita Sanford became the first Lady Rebel to be named First Team All-MW in five years, as Sequoia Holmes in 2007-08 was the last to earn the honor. Named to the second team was Kelli Thompson, while Mia Bell and Jamie Smith were third team selections. Sanford and Bell meanwhile were both selected to the MW All-Defensive team, as UNLV was the only school to have more then one player on the five-member team.

Sanford, a 6-3 senior forward from Inglewood, Calif., was the key addition this year to a Lady Rebel squad that has posted one of the best win improvements in the nation over a year ago. Her shot blocking ability (she ranked second in the MW and 24th in the nation with 2.4 blocks per game) was one of the biggest factors in helping UNLV to hold opponents to 10 fewer points a game in conference play compared to the 2010-11 season, while her 62 season blocks is the fourth highest total in school history. She finished the regular season fourth in the league in rebounding (7.4 rpg), 14th in steals (1.4 spg) and 15th in scoring (10.8 ppg). Her fourth MW Player of the Week honors were the most in the conference this year, while she was second in double-doubles with nine.  

Thompson earns second-team honors a year after receiving honorable mention recognition. The 6-0 junior guard and native of Compton, Calif., led the Lady Rebels and was eighth in the Mountain West in scoring this year with 13.6 points per game. She was also in the top six in the league in both assists (3.2 apg) and steals (1.8 spg). Thompson scored in double-figures in 20 of 30 games this season for UNLV, and twice earned MW Player of the Week.

Bell, a 5-6 junior guard and Las Vegas native, turned in a career-best season, with career-highs of points (8.8 ppg), assists (4.0 apg, second in the MW) and steals (2.0 spg, third in the MW). She also was the biggest clutch player for UNLV this year, with three-game winning shots in wins at UC Santa Barbara, and at home over Kansas State and Fresno State. She also hit the game-winning free throws in a one-point win over TCU, and scored a basket in the final seconds to send the home game against San Diego State into overtime.

Smith, a 6-0 senior forward from Kailua, Hawaii, earns third-team honors after twice receiving honorable mention. The third-leading scorer on the team with 9.5 ppg, she ranks third in the MW with 8.4 rebounds per game, and is one of the league's top three-point shooters, standing in third for percentage (36.4%) and sixth in three-pointers per game (1.6). Earlier this season she became the second player in MW history to reach 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. She is also both the MW and UNLV career rebound record holder, at 1,131 and counting.

San Diego State's Courtney Clements was named the Player of the Year, while teammate Chelsea Hopkins was the Newcomer of the Year. Porche Torrance from New Mexico received the Defensive Player of the Year Award, Natalie Ventress (TCU) was the Freshman of the Year, Meghan Heimstra from Colorado State earned the 6th Player Award and Beth Burns from San Diego State was named Coach of the Year.

The All-MW First Team was made up of Sanford, Clements, Hopkins, Ventress, Kim Mestdagh from Colorado State and Caroline Durban from New Mexico. On the second team was Thompson, Lauren Lenhardt (Boise State), Sam Martin (Colorado State) and Chaundra Sewell (Wyoming). The third team was comprised of Bell, Smith, Torrance, Malia Nahinu (San Diego State) and Kayla Woodward (Wyoming). Joining Bell and Sanford on the All-Defensive Team was Torrance, Kalena Tutt (San Diego State) and Sewell.

After being picked to finish in tie for fifth in the preseason poll, the Lady Rebels would earn their highest-ever finish in the MW, placing second at 10-4, and were 22-8 overall, 11 wins more then last season. UNLV, the second seed in the 2012 Conoco MW Championships, will open against seventh-seeded New Mexico in the quarterfinals on Wednesday at 6:05 pm in the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

2011-12 All-Mountain West Honors

First Team
Courtney Clements, San Diego State
Chelsea Hopkins, San Diego State
Kim Mestdagh, Colorado State
Caroline Durbin, New Mexico
Natalie Ventress, TCU
Lenita Sanford, UNLV

Second Team
Lauren Lenhardt, Boise State
Sam Martin, Colorado State
Kelli Thompson, UNLV
Chaundra Sewell, Wyoming

Third Team
Porche Torrance, New Mexico
Malia Nahinu, San Diego State
Mia Bell, UNLV
Jamie Smith, UNLV
Kayla Woodward, Wyoming

Honorable Mention 
Dymond James, Air Force
Kati Isham, Boise State
Kiyana Stamps, San Diego State
Antoinette Thompson, TCU
Ashley Sickles, Wyoming

Porche Torrance, New Mexico
Kalena Tutt, San Diego State
Mia Bell, UNLV
Lenita Sanford, UNLV
Chaundra Sewell, Wyoming

Player of the Year: Courtney Clements, San Diego State 
Newcomer of the Year: Chelsea Hopkins, San Diego State
Freshman of the Year: Natalie Ventress, TCU
Defensive Player of the Year: Porche Torrance, New Mexico
6th Player of the Year: Meghan Heimstra, Colorado State
Coach of the Year: Beth Burns, San Diego State