STARKVILLE, Miss. – A day after Mississippi State was selected to host the opening round of the WNIT, junior Martha Alwal earned another accolade as she was named first team All-SEC by the Associated Press.
The honor comes two weeks after the Worthington, Minn., native garnered first team All-SEC laurels from league coaches as well as co-defensive player of the year and all-defensive team honors.
“I am overwhelmed and honored to be selected as a first team All-SEC from the Associated Press,” Alwal said. “I have to share this award with my teammates and coaches because they have been so supportive of me and are always pushing me to get better every day. There are some great players in this league, so to be voted to the first team is a tremendous honor.”
Since earning All-SEC accolades from league coaches March 4, Alwal became the 20th Mississippi State player to record 1,000-career points (1,015).
Joining the 1,000-point club was another milestone in a banner offensive season that has seen her average a career-best 15.3 points and shoot an SEC third-best 50.3 percent from the field.
The Worthington, Minn., native also continued her defensive dominance, recording a personal-best 83 blocks that ranks second in MSU season annals. Alwal enters Thursday’s WNIT contest second in the SEC with 2.6 blocks per game. She finished the 16-game league slate first with 2.8 per contest.
Alwal smashed MSU’s career blocks record with 243 swats, the most among active SEC players and sixth among current NCAA Division I players. She needs six swats to tie for 10th in SEC history.
“I’m very proud of Martha for receiving this prestigious honor. To see where she was two years ago averaging five points a game in the biggest, baddest conference in the country to where she is today, this award is a reward for her hard work,” head coach Vic Schaefer said. “She has had a great season, and we have leaned on her a lot. I’m really proud of her growth, and I’m proud of our coaching staff, especially Coach (Johnnie) Harris, for helping her develop into a great player. This is a very deserving honor for Martha.”
The junior center also vaulted up State’s career rebounding chart, claiming 785 after finishing the regular season third in the SEC with an 8.7 average.
Her stellar board work helped her register 10 double-doubles this season and 29 for her career, most among active league players.
Alwal averaged 16.0 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocks the final seven games of the season to help Mississippi State to a 19-13 record, its best since 2009-10, and the program’s first postseason berth since that campaign.
Part of that run for the two-time SEC Player of the Week was MSU’s first 20-point, 20-rebound game since 1988 and the SEC’s first since 2008 when she scored 25 points and grabbed a career-high 23 rebounds against in-state rival Ole Miss. The 23 boards top the SEC this season, giving her the SEC’s highest single-game rebounding total for the third-straight year.
Alwal and the Bulldogs host Tulane Thursday at 7 p.m. in the WNIT opening round. Tickets for the contest cost $6 for adults and $4 for students and can be purchased online at www.hailstate.com/tickets or by calling 1-888-GO-DAWGS.
2014 ASSOCIATED PRESS ALL-SEC TEAMS
u-Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina, G, 5-9, So.
Isabelle Harrison, Tennessee, C, 6-3, Jr.
Meighan Simmons, Tennessee, G, 5-9, Sr.
Courtney Walker, Texas A&M, G, 5-8, So.
t-Martha Alwal, Mississippi State, C, 6-4, Jr.
t-Christina Foggie, Vanderbilt, G, 5-9, Sr.
t-Tia Faleru, Mississippi, F, 6-1, Jr.
Theresa Plaisance, LSU, F, 6-5, Sr.
Bri Kulas, Missouri, F, 6-1, Sr.
Aleighsa Welch, South Carollina, F, 6-0, Jr.
Jaterra Bonds, Florida, G, 5-7, Sr.
Tyrese Tanner, Auburn, G-F, 6-1, Sr.
Shacobia Barbee, Georgia, G-F, 5-10, So.
Alaina Coates, South Carolina, C, 6-4, Fr.
Jessica Jackson, Arkansas, F, 6-3, Fr.
Valencia McFarland, Mississippi, G, 5-4, Sr.
Jennifer O'Neill, Kentucky, G, 5-6, Jr.
DeNesha Stallworth, Kentucky, F, 6-3, Sr.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Meighan Simmons, Tennessee
COACH OF THE YEAR: u-Dawn Staley, South Carolina
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Alaina Coates, South Carolina
U – unanimous
T – tie