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Women's Basketball

 

Wallace State's Morgan Smith named NJCAA second-team All-American

Wallace State's Morgan Smith named NJCAA  second-team All-American

HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State women's basketball sophomore Morgan Smith was named a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I 2nd-team All-American on Tuesday, marking yet another significant achievement for the Lady Lions.

Smith becomes the first Wallace State women's basketball player to garner 2nd-team recognition, the highest earned in program history.

"It was a season of a lot of firsts and this is right there with it. No women's basketball player has been named to the second team until now. You've accomplished something if you earn an honorable mention selection, so for Morgan Smith to be named to the second team, it's just a true test to what she gets done on the court and in the classroom," said Wallace State women's coach Ron Burdette. "It's a great honor for Morgan individually, but I think it's a great honor for us as a team simply because if we hadn't played together as team during the season I don't think this honor would have come."

Smith, a 5-foot-10 forward from Cullman, led Wallace State with an average of 16.1 points per game and was also first on the team in steals (93), second in assists (94) and third in rebounding (5.6 boards per game) as the Lady Lions finished 28-6 and made the program's fifth NJCAA Division I national tournament appearance and first since 2011. Smith was also named the 2015 Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) Player of the Year after finishing the regular season as the league's second-leading scorer. Additionally, she led the conference in field goals made (203) and 3-pointers made (82).

No Smith 3-pointer was as clutch as the double-overtime buzzer beater against 14th-ranked Shelton State in the ACCC tournament semifinals. With Wallace State facing a two-point deficit with 4.7 seconds remaining, Smith grabbed the inbounds pass, pump faked and banked in an acrobatic 3-pointer as time expired, propelling the Lady Lions into the ACCC title game with an 89-88 victory. 

Wallace State finished ACCC tournament runner-up in Bay Minette, but still advanced to the national tournament as an at-large zone bid qualifier. Smith, an ACCC all-tournament selection, and the Lady Lions made program history once they hit the court in Salina, Kansas.

In its opener, Wallace State, seeded No. 19, upset No. 11 Eastern Arizona in convincing fashion, winning 87-59, and collecting the program's first opening-round tournament victory. Smith had 19 points and 11 rebounds against Eastern Arizona, tallying her sixth double-double of the season.

Wallace State finished among the top 16 teams in the country after being eliminated in the second round by Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College.  

Smith and her Wallace State teammates were recipients of the Alberta Lee Cox sportsmanship award at the national tournament.

As a freshman at Wallace State, Smith led the way with a team-high 11.2 points per game and added 5.6 rebounds, earning her All-Region 22 second team and first-team All-North Division recognition. The Lady Lions finished with a 27-5 record in 2013-14, winning the ACCC North Division title.

Smith was the lone returning starter in 2014-15 and provided leadership all season, along with fellow sophomores Haven Albright, BreAnna Thompson, Morgan Hardy and Kaneisha Mixon.

Smith scored 20 or more points in 10 games, including pouring in a career-high 33 points in a victory at Motlow State last November.

"We were a fairly young team at that point and struggling a little bit. Morgan kind of put the team on her back at Motlow State and made sure everyone followed," said Burdette, who earned career win No. 100 in Kansas.   

All five Wallace State sophomores have an opportunity to continue their basketball careers at four-year colleges or universities. Smith is generating the heaviest attention with Indiana, Purdue, Virginia Tech and Stetson University among the schools interested in her. 

"It seems like it's a new college each day calling about Morgan. She plays the game hard and it looks effortless, and that really caught the eye of a lot of coaches at the national tournament," Burdette said.

Before Tuesday, Ashley Nance (2013) was the last Wallace State's women's player to earn NJCAA All-American recognition. Nance was an honorable mention selection along with TaCouya Allen in 2012 and Bailee Robinson in 2011.