Hodgins Named Big Sky Freshman of the Year; Nelson and Ojeda Also Recognized on All-Conference Team

On the heels of Big Sky POW award, sophomore guard Lexie Nelson selected to prestigious All-Big Sky First Team

Complete Big Sky Release (PDF)

Following a successful run in the 2012-13 Big Sky regular season, the Eastern Washington University women’s basketball team had three individual members honored on the All-Big Sky Conference Team, which was announced Monday (March 11) by the league office.

In a vote of the league’s 11 head coaches, sophomore guard Lexie Nelson was one of six elite players selected to the All-Big Sky First Team, while senior Carrie Ojeda earned the first All-Conference distinction of her career as a member of the honorable mention squad.

Redshirt-Freshman Hayley Hodgins was tabbed as the Most Outstanding Freshman, becoming the first player since 1993, and one of only five throughout Eastern Washington women’s basketball history, to take home the coveted award.

Nelson, the only underclassman to appear on the first or second team, was among the top five scorers in the Big Sky throughout the entire 2012-13 league season, averaging 13.7 points per game. She was one of only three guards in the conference to rank in the top 15 for field goal percentage, shooting 41.9 percent from the floor in 20 Big Sky games.

Nelson knocked down 69-of-79 free throws this year to rank first in the league-only statistics for free-throw percentage (87.3), while her overall season percentage of 86.5 ranks 26th nationally.

Nelson was also among the top five in league-only stats for 3-point field goal percentage (39.8), 3-point field goals average (2.0/game) and minutes played (34.5/game).

“I think the other coaches saw in Lexie what we see every day, 365 days a year - and that is just a relentless work ethic,” said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. “Lexie is in the gym all the time. Everything that she does she has worked for, so it is really nice to see her recognized. She shot the ball extremely well for us this year from three, and from the free-throw line. But I know Lexie is only going to continue to work on her game and add to her repertoire. She was the only sophomore on the list, both first and second team, so that bodes well for our future.”

Nelson scored in double figures in all but four Big Sky games, and had three 20+ performances during the year, including a career-high 24 points on 67 percent shooting in an overtime win against Idaho State last Thursday (March 7), which solidified the three-seed for EWU in the 2013 Big Sky Conference Tournament.

Nelson, who transferred from Big Sky rival Montana following the 2010-11 season, started all 29 games for Eastern in her first official year in red and white. She averaged a team-leading 33.9 minutes per game, and played a full 40 minutes on three different occasions.

Ojeda, who also garnered a shout-out from College Sports Madness as a member of their All-Big Sky Second Team, was among the top 20 players in the league this year in five different categories.

She ranked 17th in scoring (11.0), eighth in rebounding (6.7), seventh in field goal percentage (46.0), 11th in free throw percentage (77.9) and 13th in blocked shots (1.0).

“I am so happy for Carrie because defensively, she is our anchor. She is the key for us,” said Schuller. “She keeps us all on the same page, and does some things that you can’t coach and can’t teach. There are times when we just step back and let her talk because she knows more than we do in terms of how to do things back there. She has really been a great teacher to our young post players.”

Ojeda registered a total of seven double-doubles this year, which ranked among the top five in the conference. She scored in double figures in 11 of 20 Big Sky games, including the last four in a row to close out the regular season.

After scoring a then-career high 21 points in the final regular-season road game at North Dakota (March 2), Ojeda poured in a career-best 27 points on Senior Day at Reese Court against Weber State (March 9). She also had 12 rebounds, two blocked shots and a career-high five steals in that contest.

“Carrie has grown so much as a player, probably as much as any player I’ve ever coached,” said Schuller. “From her freshman year to her senior year, she has really progressed mentally and with her game, so to see her career capped off with an all-conference honor is really rewarding.”

Hodgins took home an award that only four other players in Eastern history have earned. She joins Vanessa Jones (1989), Christina Marshall (1990), Keri Schwenke (1992) and Kristy Missall (1993) as a Big Sky Freshman of the Year award winner.

“It’s really exciting for us to see a player who has put in the time and effort that Hayley has get an award like this,” said Schuller. “It is a great honor for her and it is well-deserved. She was the leading freshman scorer in the league this year, and I think shot the ball as well as anybody in the whole conference. But I think Hayley's upside is still tremendous. She has some strengths that she can still add, and I know physically, she is going to keep working to get faster and stronger. She has great work ethic, and while this is an awesome award, I know it won’t stop her from continuing to be a hard worker for us in the future.”

Hodgins was one of only two freshmen who ranked among the top 30 in the league in scoring. She was fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (39.3) and 12th in 3-point field goal average (1.2) - one of only two freshmen to rank in the top 15 of those categories as well.

In conference-play, the Pasco, Wash., native had seven double-digit scoring games, including five in a row from Jan. 10 - Jan. 21.

She was named Big Sky Player of the Week on Jan. 21 after leading EWU to a pair of home victories against North Dakota and Big Sky regular-season runner-up Northern Colorado. In her first-career start for EWU, Hodgins led the team to a 63-38 blowout of UNC (Jan. 19) after going 7-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-3 from downtown, to finish with 17 points. With that performance, she became the first player in the Big Sky this season to shoot 100 percent from the field with at least five attempts, and the first player to do so for Eastern since 1979.

In the very next game at Portland State (Jan. 21), Hodgins scored a game-high 22 points, including 4-of-8 from three. Exactly a month later in the home meeting with the Vikings (Feb. 21), she posted a career-high 24 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor, 3-of-4 from distance and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line in just 26 minutes of action. Hodgins hit her first seven shots of the game before missing.

She started 12 of 20 Big Sky games this year, averaging 24.3 minutes per game.

2012-13 Big Sky Women's Basketball All-Conference Team


Player (School) Yr. Pos. Hometown
#Katie Baker (Montana) Sr. Forward Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

#D'shara Strange (Northern Colorado) 

Jr. Guard Butte, Mont.
Lexie Nelson (Eastern Washington) So. Guard Lynden, Wash.
Kenzie De Boer (Montana) Sr. Guard Tempe, Ariz.
Amy Patton (Northern Arizona) Sr. Guard Fountain, Colo.
Kylie Kuhns (Sacramento State) Sr.     Forward     Salem, Ore.

# Unanimous First-Team Selection


Player (School) Yr. Pos. Hometown
Kaela Oakes (Idaho State)
Sr. Guard Chandler, Ariz.
Ashleigh Vella (Idao State)
Sr. Forward Melbourne, Australia
Lauren Oosdyke (Northern Colorado)    Sr. Forward Coto de Caza, Calif.
Rachel Semansky (Montana State)
Sr. Forward     Highwood, Mont.
Courtney VanBrocklin (Portland State)
Guard Demin, Wash.

: Carrie Ojeda, Eastern Washington; Madi Buck, North Dakota; Angela Misa, Portland State; Fantasia Hilliard, Sacramento State; Alle Moreno, Sacramento State and Hailey Mandelko, Southern Utah

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Katie Baker, Montana
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: D'shara Strange, Northern Colorado
TOP NEWCOMER: Angelsa Misa, Portland State
OUTSTANDING FRESHMAN: Hayley Hodgins, Eastern Washington

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