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Nicole Dunson
Nicole Dunson

UTSA's Nicole Dunson named Southland Conference Women's Student-Athlete of Year

(April 21, 2005)--Six players highlight the 2005 Southland Conference Women's Basketball All-Academic Team with Nicole Dunson of The University of Texas at San Antonio named the league's student-athlete of the year.

Northwestern State University leads all schools with seniors Amanda Bennett and Ashley Sparkman occupying two of the six spots.

The all-academic teams, voted on by the head coaches, sports information directors and academic/compliance administrators, honor student-athletes who earned at least a 3.00 grade point average while serving as a starter or important reserve with legitimate athletic credentials. Student-athletes must have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing within the institution and must have completed one full academic year at the nominating institution.

The student-athlete of the year is annually presented to the individual in each conference sport who achieves excellence in academics, athletics and community/campus service. Nominees shall have earned at least a 3.2 cumulative grade point average to go along with superior athletics achievement.

After three years of waiting on the sidelines due to injuries and an NCAA transfer rule, Dunson finally made her debut this year as the senior guard from Corpus Christi, Texas, finished the 2004-05 season with 46 three-pointers to rank third on the UTSA single-season chart and recognized as an All-SLC honorable mention. Her 3-point shooting (39.7) was good for third in the conference and she also led the team at the free throw line with an 89 percent clip.

In the classroom, Dunson owns a 3.92 GPA and has been on the Dean's List every semester at UTSA. The biology major and health minor is also involved in numerous organizations on campus, serving as vice president of the student-athlete advisory committee as well as a member and chaplin of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and a student leader for Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Lady Demons Bennett and Sparkman capped off stellar careers at Northwestern State as the dynamic duo broke school records and set new ones in their final campaign. Bennett, a forward from Simpson, La., ranked second on the team and 11th in the league with a 12.6 scoring average en route to receiving her second straight All-SLC nod. The senior became the 21st player in school history to break the 1,000 career points scored mark and 15th player to surpass 500 career rebounds. She was second on the team and fifth in the Southland in rebounding with 7.5 per game. Bennett, one of two tabbed for all-conference honors on the academic squad, compiled a 3.47 GPA as a double major in pyschology and veterinary technology.

A native of Longview, Texas, Sparkman led the team and league, and ranked second in the nation with a 4.9 blocks per game average. She broke or tied seven NSU and SLC blocked shot records during the season while also setting a new SLC single-game record with 4.9 blocks per contest. The center broke the school record for blocked shots in a season (132) and also set a new school career record (277). The senior led the team and ranked third in the league with 8.5 boards per outing while off the court, she recorded a 3.86 GPA in health and exercise science.

Lamar University, Sam Houston State University and the University of Texas at Arlington each had a representative on the all-academic team with Lamar's LaToya Carson and Stephanie Trachier of SHSU tied for the remaining spot. Carson, the lone underclassmen on the squad, finished among the top 10 in the Southland in rebounds, steals and points as she led the Lady Cardinals in scoring and rebounding. The sophomore from Long Beach, Miss., earned third team All-SLC honors this year and has a 3.44 GPA in general studies.

Trachier, a junior guard on the SHSU Bearkat squad, started in 14 of the 24 games she played this year. The Colleyville, Texas, native posted a 3.88 GPA as a management information systems major and is a member of the SHSU Student-Athlete Advisory Council.

UTA's Tabitha Wesley completes the all-academic group as the guard from DeSoto, Texas, was instrumental in the Mavericks claiming their first-ever SLC regular-season and tournament championships and a No. 13 seed in their first NCAA appearance. The senior averaged 9.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.48 steals per contest in 26 starts of the 31 games played. She ranked second in the league with a three-point field goal percentage (42.4) and was among the top 20 in the conference in steals (15th) and scoring (18th). Wesley is a kinesiology major with a 3.22 GPA.

--Rick Nixon

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2005 Southland Conference Women's Basketball All-Academic Team

(student , university, position, class, GPA, major, hometown)

  • Amanda Bennett, Northwestern State, F, senior, 3.47, psychology and veterinary technology, Simpson, La.
  • * LaToya Carson, Lamar, G, sophomore, 3.44, general studies, Long Beach, Miss.
  • Nicole Dunson, Texas-San Antonio, G, senior, 3.92, biology, Corpus Christi, Texas (2005 SLC Women's Basketball Student-Athlete of the Year)
  • Ashley Sparkman, Northwestern State, C, senior, 3.86, health and exercise science, Longview, Texas
  • * Stephanie Trachier, Sam Houston State, G, junior, 3.88, management information systems, Colleyville, Texas
  • Tabitha Wesley, Texas-Arlington, G, senior, 3.22, kinesiology, DeSoto, Texas

* Tied for remaining spot on team

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