Bento-Jackson, Cozad Earn WCC Post-season Honors

Feb. 27, 2006

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SAN BRUNO, CA -- Santa Clara received a pair of individual honors after claiming a share of the WCC women's basketball regular season title and the top seed in the WCC Tournament, as senior Michelle Cozad was named as the conference's 2006 Player of the Year and Head Coach Michelle Bento-Jackson took home the WCC Coach of the Year honor.

"It is a wonderful honor to have both the coach and the player of the year in the WCC, to go along with the regular season Conference Championship" said SCU's director of athletics Dan Coonan. "Michelle Cozad had a phenomenal year, in addition to demonstrating tremendous team leadership skills. Michelle Bento-Jackson is also very deserving of this award, with the job she did with this team this year. To maintain the momentum built on last year's WCC Tournament championship and win the league is quite an accomplishment."

Pepperdine senior Kelsey Ball was tabbed for WCC Defensive Player of the Year accolades, while LMU junior Ashlee Dunlap was named as the conference's Newcomer of the Year.

Cozad becomes the first Bronco to earn WCC Player of the Year honors since Lisa Sacco took home the conference's top honor following the 1997-98 season. The senior finished the regular season as the only WCC player ranked in the top-six in scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals. Cozad led the conference with 17.7 points per game, and ranked second in the league with 9.1 rebounds per contest. She also paced the circuit with 2.30 steals per game, and ranked sixth in the WCC with 2.81 assists per game.

Bento-Jackson guided the Broncos to a share of the WCC regular season title and the top seed in the WCC Tournament with an 11-3 record in conference play and a 17-10 overall mark. Bento-Jackson is the first Santa Clara coach since Caren Horstmeyer in 1992-93 to receive WCC Coach of the Year accolades.

Ball is the first Pepperdine player to be named WCC Defensive Player of the Year since NeSha Thomas received the honor in 2000-01. Ball, the only senior on a team that included nine underclassman and five freshmen, finished the regular season ranked 10th in the conference in rebounding (5.5 rpg) and seventh in the WCC in blocks (0.70 bpg). Dunlap, a transfer from San Diego State, made an immediate impact in her first WCC season, wrapping up the regular season ranked among the league leaders in scoring and rebounding. The Junior averaged a league-best 10.0 rebounds per game on the season, and tied for 11th place on the WCC scoring chart with 10.6 points per game.

San Francisco's Dominique Carter and Santa Clara's Kayla Huss were each named to the All-WCC first team for the second time.

Coach of the Year: Michelle Bento-Jackson, Santa Clara

Player of the Year: Michelle Cozad, Santa Clara

Defensive Player of the Year: Kelsey Ball, Pepperdine

Newcomer of the Year: Ashlee Dunlap, LMU

All-Conference Team
Ashley Anderson, GON - 6-1 - F - SR - Enterprise, OR
Dominique Carter, USF - 5-11 - G/F - SO - Tracy, CA
Jasmane Clarendon, PEP - 6-1 - F - JR - San Bernardino, CA
Michelle Cozad, SCU - 5-10 - G - SR - Stockton, CA
Ashlee Dunlap, LMU - 6-1 - F - JR - Los Angeles, CA
Whitney Grant, POR - 5-6 - G - SR - Medford, OR
Tiara Harris, USD - 5-10 - G - SR - Colorado Springs, CO
Stephanie Hawk, GON 6-3 - F - JR - Ontario, OR
Kayla Huss, SCU - 5-7 - G - SR - Everett, WA
Daphanie Kennedy, PEP - 5-7 - G - SO - Oakland, CA