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Rininger Earns BSC 1st Team, Scholar-Athlete Honors

March 2, 2014
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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(L-R): Simone Brown (All-Freshman Team), Ashley Rininger (Scholar-Athlete of the Year, 1st Team All-Big South, All-Academic Team) and Mickayla Sanders (All-Freshman Team)

Liberty redshirt sophomore Ashley Rininger earned a trio of recognitions from the Big South Conference this afternoon, including the Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year award and berths on the first-team All-Big South and Big South All-Academic squads. Teammates Simone Brown and Mickayla Sanders were each named to the Big South All-Freshman Team.

For the third straight season, Winthrop senior guard Dequesha McClanahan was voted Big South Player of the Year. Big South regular-season champion High Point boasted the Freshman of the Year (Kaylah Keys) and Coach of the Year (DeUnna Hendrix). Meanwhile, Campbell's Kiera Gaines was named Big South Defensive Player of the Year.

Today's honors continued a couple of lengthy streaks for the Lady Flames. Liberty has now seen at least one player make the first-team All-Big South squad for 18 straight seasons and has had a representative on the Big South All-Freshman Team for six years in a row. However, this is the first time since 2002 (Katie Feenstra, Kristal Tharp and Stephanie Walker) that multiple Lady Flames have been included on the All-Freshman Team.

Rininger, a criminal justice major with a 4.0 grade-point average, is Liberty's first Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year since Megan Frazee in 2009 and joins Elena Kisseleva (1998) as the only sophomores in program history to win this award. Rininger is on track to graduate with her bachelor's degree in May, after only three years on campus.

One of only two conference players to win three Big South Player of the Week honors (Dec. 2, Dec. 23 and Feb. 24) this season, Rininger is the Lady Flames' leader in points (14.8 ppg), rebounds (9.0 rpg), blocked shots (1.3 bpg) and field goal percentage (.545). Her 15 double-doubles this season are the most in program history by a sophomore.

Rininger enters the Big South Championship tied for the conference lead in double-doubles, while ranking second in field goal percentage, fourth in rebounding, sixth in free throw percentage (.746), sixth in blocked shots and tied for seventh in scoring.

The Lady Flames have gone 5-0 since Brown joined the starting lineup late in the season. She has made her biggest impact in the rebounding column, as the Florida native ranks fourth on the team and sixth among Big South freshmen with 4.6 rpg. Most recently, she pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds during Liberty's regular-season finale at Longwood on Saturday.

At 9.6 ppg, Sanders is the Lady Flames' second-leading scorer on the season and ranks third among conference freshmen. She boasts the highest scoring average by a Lady Flames rookie since Devon Brown posted 17.2 ppg in 2009-10.

Sanders has also made her mark from beyond the three-point arc, hitting a team-high 45 triples on the season. She ranks sixth in the Big South for three-pointers made and second for three-point field goal percentage (.363).

Liberty (19-10, 15-5 Big South) is the No. 2 seed for this week's Big South Women's Basketball Championship. The Lady Flames will match up against either No. 7 seed Presbyterian College or No. 10 seed Longwood in the quarterfinal round, Thursday at 6 p.m. at The HTC Center in Conway, S.C.

2013-14 Big South Conference Women's Basketball Award Winners

First-Team All-Conference
Dequesha McClanahan, Winthrop
Kaylah Keys, High Point
Ashley Rininger, Liberty
Stacia Robertson, High Point
AJ Jordan, Coastal Carolina

Second-Team All-Conference
Catrina Green, Gardner-Webb
Roslyn Presley, Campbell
Kiera Gaines, Campbell
Erica Williams, Winthrop
Karlee Taylor, Presbyterian College

Honorable Mention
Schaquilla Nunn, Winthrop
Erin Bratcher, Charleston Southern
Ayana Avery, Radford
Angelica Henry, Coastal Carolina
Paige Love, UNC Asheville

All-Freshman Team
Kaylah Keys, High Point
Erica Williams, Winthrop
Mickayla Sanders, Liberty
DeAnneisha Jackson, High Point
Karsen Sims, Coastal Carolina
Simone Brown, Liberty

Academic All-Conference
Ashley Rininger, Liberty
Casey Elliott, Campbell
Sherece Smith, Presbyterian College
Leah Wormack, UNC Asheville
AJ Jordan, Coastal Carolina
Dequesha McClanahan, Winthrop
Kiera McIvor, Radford
Jessica Parker, Longwood
Stacia Robertson, High Point
Kirklin Kirkpatrick, Charleston Southern
Catrina Green, Gardner-Webb

Player of the Year
Dequesha McClanahan, Winthrop

Defensive Player of the Year
Kiera Gaines, Campbell

Freshman of the Year
Kaylah Keys, High Point

Coach of the Year
DeUnna Hendrix, High Point

Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Ashley Rininger, Liberty