Lady Camel Trio Earns All-Big South Honors

(L-R) Kiera Gaines, Tonisha Baker, Amanda O'Neill (photos by Bennett Scarborough)
(L-R) Kiera Gaines, Tonisha Baker, Amanda O'Neill (photos by Bennett Scarborough)

HIGH POINT, N.C.-Tonisha Baker was named Second Team All-Big South, while Kiera Gaines collected All-Freshman honors and Amanda O'Neill earned All-Academic accolades at Thursday's women's basketball league postseason banquet.

Baker ranks 11th overall in scoring, eighth in rebounding, 11th in field goal percentage, seventh in assists, first in steals, 13th in blocks and third in assist/turnover ratio in the Big South. The junior also ranks ninth all-time in CU history in steals with 162 and 10th in blocks at 38. Scoring in double figures 23 times this season, Baker has led the CU in scoring a team-high 14 times, posting eight double-doubles. Baker has led Campbell in rebounding nine times, grabbing double-digit rebounds six times.

Baker averaged 14.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game for the season.

Baker is coming off two of the best games in her Campbell career, averaging 28.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in two road wins on the way to her second Big South Player of the Week honor this season. Baker opened the weekend on Friday at UNC Asheville, pouring in a career-high 31 points in a 74-55 win.

Baker's 31 are the most points scored by a Lady Camel since April Cromartie against Samford in 2002 (2/21/02). The junior guard from High Point, N.C., tallied her career night on 13-of-19 shooting, making her only attempt from beyond the arc. Baker also added four points from the free throw line in the win. Baker's 31 points mark the 43rd time in school history a player has registered 30 or more, while becoming the 10th Lady Camel to ever post multiple 30 point games. Baker's previous career-best of 30 came in last season's 98-70 win over USC Upstate on Feb. 26, 2011.

The junior added 10 rebounds, marking her team-high seventh double-double of the season, and the 13th by a Lady Camel this season, with four assists and three steals. Baker followed that performance with a game-high 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists and five steals in a win at Gardner-Webb Monday night, her second consecutive game scoring 25 or more.

The game marked Baker's fourth 20 point outing of the season and eighth in her career. The junior from High Point, N.C. is averaging 28.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.0 steals per game over her last two contests. Baker hit 23-of-35 shots for a stellar .657 field goal percentage, hitting both of her three point attempts.

Coming into Friday's game with 990 career points, Baker also surpassed 1,000 career points in the win, becoming the 16th player in Lady Camel history to surpass the milestone. Baker needs just 11 rebounds to reach 500 for her career and become the 19th member of that club at CU.

The High Point, N.C. native was also an Atlantic Sun First Team All-Conference selection in 2011 and a 2010 A-Sun All-Freshman Team member.

Gaines earned Big South All-Freshman team honors after averaging 3.8 points and rebounds in 17.0 minutes per game off the bench for the Lady Camels. The rookie has gathered 24 blocks this season, ranking second on the team and sixth in Campbell single-season history. Gaines ranks 10th in blocks among Big South players, second among league freshmen.

The Mechanicsville, Va. native has collected a block in 14 games this season, gathering multiple denials seven times. Gaines tallied a season-high three blocks three times and posted five or more rebounds in eight appearances.

Gaines posted 11 points and six rebounds in a home win over Presbyterian, while gathering a season-high 10 rebounds to go along with five points and four assists in another home victory over High Point. The freshman registered a season-high 13 points with seven rebounds at UNC Wilmington.

O'Neill was awarded Big South All-Academic accolades after posting a 3.61 GPA with a business administration major. The Oak Hill, Va. native is tied for third on the Campbell all-time games played list with 118, starting her last 60 consecutive games.

The senior has helped Campbell break its program single-season blocks record in each of the last three seasons, while earning team defensive player of the year accolades in each of her first three seasons with the Lady Camels. O'Neill ranks 10th in assists, ninth in steals and seventh in blocks in CU career history. She has collected five steals four times this year, and was an Atlantic Sun All-Academic honoree three times.

O'Neill averages 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game for the Lady Camels this season, adding 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals.

Dequesha McClanahan of Winthrop, also named the league's player of the year, along with Liberty's Avery Warley and Devon Brown, High Point's Shamia Brown and Radford's Da'Naria Erwin Spencer made up the conference's first team.

Rachelle Coward of Charleston Southern, Diana Choibekova of Winthrop and High Point's Cheyenne Parker and Erin Reynolds joined Baker on the second team.

Reagan Miller of Liberty, Shatia Cole of Coastal Carolina, Leah Womack of UNC Asheville and the Bulldogs' Shonese Jones, the league freshman of the year, joined Gaines on the all-rookie squad.

Cheyenne Parker from HPU was named Big South Defensive Player of the Year, while Winthrop's Marlene Stollings earned Coach of the Year honors. CSU's Coward, along with Brianna Dillard shared BSC Scholar-Athlete of the Year accolades.

Joining O'Neill, Coward and Dillard on the all-academic team were Coastal Carolina's Taylor Epley, High Point's Laura Whitt, PC's Karlee Taylor, Asheville's Lindsey Thompson, Radford's Katherine Brockett and Winthrop's Kaitlyn Rubino.

In Campbell's previous stay in the Big South (1986-94), Lady Camels were named first or second team all-conference 16 times, with Tammy Brown (1990, 91), Laurie Hood (1992) and Regina McKeithan (1987) earning a combined four league player of the year honors.

Becky Lastinger was also an all-rookie performer in 1994, while head coach Wanda Watkins was named the conference coach of the year in 1987 and 1991.

The Lady Camels, at 18-11 overall and 11-7 in Big South play, finished the regular season with wins in six of their last seven outings, including a 64-51 victory at Gardner-Webb most recently.

Campbell's 18 wins are the program's most overall victories since 2000-01 when the team posted 22. The team will also finish with a winning record for the first time since that season. This year will be the 20th winning season for Lady Camel head coach Wanda Watkins, and the 28th overall for the program dating back to 1972-73. 

This season, Campbell rejoined the Big South Conference after a 17 year stay in the Atlantic Sun. Campbell, a founding member of the Big South, was 80-26 in eight seasons (1986-94) in its previous stay, making six consecutive conference tournament finals appearances from 1987-92. Campbell won the 1989 title game, and earned the 1990-91 regular season championship with a perfect 12-0 record in league play.

Tournament play will kick off at noon on Friday with No. 1 Liberty taking on No. 8 UNC Asheville. After the Lady Camels' game against CSU, No. 2 High Point will face No. 7 Coastal Carolina at 5:50 p.m. No. 3 Winthrop and No. 6 Radford will wrap up Friday's quarterfinal round with a 7:30 p.m. tip.

Semifinal action will get started on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Big South Championship game will be Sunday at 4 p.m.

Big South Women's Basketball All-Conference honors

First-Team All-Conference
Dequesha McClanahan, Winthrop
Avery Warley, Liberty
Shamia Brown, High Point
Devon Brown, Liberty
Da'Naria Erwin Spencer, Radford 

Second-Team All-Conference
Rachelle Coward, Charleston Southern
Cheyenne Parker, High Point
Tonisha Baker, Campbell
Erin Reynolds, High Point
Diana Choibekova, Winthrop 

All-Freshman Team
Shonese Jones, UNC Asheville
Reagan Miller, Liberty
Shatia Cole, Coastal Carolina
Leah Wormack, UNC Asheville
Kiera Gaines, Campbell 

Academic All-Conference
Amanda O'Neill, Campbell
Rachelle Coward, Charleston Southern
Taylor Epley, Coastal Carolina
Brianna Dillard, Gardner-Webb
Laura Whitt, High Point
Karlee Taylor, Presbyterian College
Lindsey Thompson, UNC Asheville
Katherine Brockett, Radford
Kaitlyn Rubino, Winthrop 

Player of the Year
Dequesha McClanahan, Winthrop 

Defensive Player of the Year
Cheyenne Parker, High Point 

Freshman of the Year
Shonese Jones, UNC Asheville 

Coach of the Year
Marlene Stollings, Winthrop 

Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Rachelle Coward, Charleston Southern
Brianna Dillard, Gardner-Webb