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Women's basketball team announces awards, Blair Bowens selected team MVP

John P. Hendrix Leadership Award to Lyons,
Frank Porter Award to Bowens

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Senior Blair Bowens was named the Most Valuable Player and also won the Frank Porter Award and Foul Shooting Award Monday night when the Tennessee Tech women’s basketball team announced its 2008-09 awards at the team’s annual Awards Dinner.

Head coach Amy Brown also presented the John P. Hendrix Leadership Award to Meagan Lyons, the Best Defensive Player Award to Allison Price and the Academic Award to Rachel Whittle as all four of the team’s seniors were among the players who accepted honors.

Junior Vivian Nwosu and freshman Simone Rutledge shared the Most Improved Player honor.

The program also featured a highlight video and comments from the senior players and team managers.

Bowens, a senior from Tuscumbia, Ala., led Tech in scoring and ranked eighth in the Ohio Valley Conference with 15.2 points per game on her way to earning second-team all-OVC honors. She ranked among OVC leaders in 3-point percentage, 3-pointers made, free throw percentage, steals and minutes played.

“Blair has been a great ambassador for Tennessee Tech women’s basketball, and the Frank Porter Award is in recognition of her overall contributions to the team, both on and off the floor,” Brown said. “She was more visible in the community her junior and senior years.”

At the free throw line, Bowens shot a team-best 73.1 percent, including 80.6 percent in OVC games.

“Foul shooting is a very important aspect of the game, and many times it’s the difference in winning and losing,” Brown said. “Blair was our most consistent foul shooter in 2008-09.”

The MVP honor, voted on by the players, reflected Bowens’ overall contributions to the team.

“When you have the type of year that Blair had, offensively, defensively and at the free throw line, your teammates notice that,” Brown said. “She was the player they looked to on the floor for the big shots or to handle the ball in the final minutes.

“She carried our offense on her shoulders for a majority of our games, and she is very deserving of this award,” Brown said.

Bowens is only the third guard to earn the team's MVP award in the past 23 years, joining Taunya Lovelace in 1995 and Kendall Cavin in 2007.

Lyons, a senior from Greeneville, Tenn., accepted the John P. Hendrix Leadership Award after ranking second on the team in scoring and 11th in the OVC with 10.3 points per game. She also ranked fifth in the league in steals and was among OVC leaders in field goal percentage and assists.

“Meagan was a four-year starter and she made a great name for herself, not only on our team but in the conference and around the nation,” Brown said. “She showed her leadership by example. Every day she played hard, in practice and in games, and we will miss her tenacity.

“She wasn’t a vocal leader, but she led by example and gave the team guidance by how hard she played,” Brown said.

The Academic Award, presented by Assistant Athletic Director Lance Jasitt, went to Whittle, a senior biology major from Hubbard, Tex., who posted a 3.51 GPA during her final season. A two-year member of the team, Whittle was hampered by injuries and limited to just seven games in 2008-09.

“It was courageous of Rachel to try to play for the last two years with painful knees,” Brown said. “It showed the great passion she had for the game, and she had that same passion in her academics. She has her sights set on being a dentist. She plans to further her academic endeavors and go on to dental school, and there’s no question that she will be successful.”

Price, a senior point guard from Atlanta, won the Best Defensive Player Award for the second consecutive year. She ranked fourth in the OVC in assists and eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio.

“Allison was a mainstay in our defense, and she always had to guard the toughest opponent at the guard spot,” Brown said. “She gave us that kind of effort on defense, while also running our basketball team on the other end of the floor. She did a great job throughout her career, and especially this year, and we will certainly miss her presence next year.”

Nwosu and Rutledge shared the Most Improved Player Award, each in their first season on the floor for the Golden Eagles. Nwosu, a junior from San Antonio, began her career this season after sitting out one year following a transfer. Rutledge is a freshman from Decatur, Ga.

“The Most Improved Player award goes to someone who, from the beginning of the season until the end, shows tremendous progress,” Brown said. “With Vivian, that was something that was seen not only by her teammates, but also the community and the fans.

“When Vivian was playing her best basketball, we were winning games,” Brown said. “She was willing to do whatever was needed to be successful, from the first of August right through our last game at Eastern Illinois.”

Nwosu finished the year averaging 8.9 points and 3.9 rebounds in conference play. Rutledge was a key contributor off the bench, and averaged 1.7 points and 1.3 rebounds against the OVC.

“Simone came in and just worked hard at learning what dedication means in every area of her life, including basketball,” Brown said. “She was another player who was willing to do whatever it takes, and she was never satisfied with where she was. She always wanted to improve, and that was evident from the beginning of the year to the end.”