ALBANY, N.Y. — Nine freshmen joined the University of Maine women’s basketball team last summer. Six months later, one of them stands alone.
Liz Wood, whose versatility made her one of the Black Bears’ mainstays during her freshman season, has been selected as the America East Conference Co-Rookie of the Year.
The 5-foot-10 guard/forward from Catlett, Va., shares the honor with Shereesha Richards, a 6-1 freshman forward for the University at Albany.
“I thought it was going to be the girl from Albany, because Albany has been really successful,” Wood said Thursday night. “I was pleasantly surprised.”
The conference announced its season award winners during a reception held Thursday on the eve of the America East quarterfinals, which will be played at Albany’s SEFCU Arena.
The Black Bears, who on Feb. 26 were involved in a bus crash in Massachusetts, are not competing in the tournament. UMaine was represented at the reception by athletics director Steve Abbott and Senior Woman Administrator Eileen Flaherty, who accepted the trophy on Wood’s behalf.
The other America East major individual awards went to Chantell Alford of Boston University and Ebone Henry of Albany, who were named co-players of the year. Henry also was tabbed the top defensive player for the third straight season.
Katie Abrahamson-Henderson was the coach of the year and Alford became the first-ever three-time player of the year recipient.
They were joined on the All-AE first team by Albany’s Julie Forster, along with Boston University’s Rashidat Agboola and Mo Moran.
Wood became the sixth UMaine player named rookie of the year and is the first since Monica Peterson in 2002. Wood earned the rookie of the week award six times.
“It was just nice knowing that all my hard work paid off and I was recognized,” Wood said. “Even though it was a tough year, I think I learned a lot as a person and as a player.”
In conference play, Wood ranked fourth in America East by scoring 12.9 points per game. She was the No. 5 rebounder with 7.3 per contest.
Wood was seventh in steals (2.0) and shot 39 percent from the field (71-for-183), 64 percent from the foul line (36-for-56) and 30 percent (16-for-54) from 3-point range.
“Liz is awesome. She’s a great team player,” said UMaine head coach Richard Barron. “She did so much for us, and at multiple positions, and she’s very deserving of the award. So is Richards. She was tremendous, too.”
In all games, Wood averaged 10.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.5 steals.
She played both guard and forward, and later in the season often found herself matched up defensively against much taller post players.
“She’s willing to do anything we need her to do,” Barron said. “She’s a great leader. I think she’s emerged in every facet.”
Wood emerged as a calm, steadying force on a UMaine team that was in constant flux because of injuries, inexperience and inconsistency. In AE play, she was second on the team in minutes played (33.5 mpg), and she was the only player to appear in all 28 games for the Bears.
“The hardest thing for me was coming in with a bunch of other freshmen,” Wood said. “There wasn’t already a culture established [with so few upperclassmen]. We kind of had to do that [ourselves].”
The UMaine field hockey team has been honored with the 2012 Gladiator by SGI/NFHCA Division I National Academic Team Award.
It is the ninth straight year the Black Bears have earned the academic award, given to programs that compiled a grade point average of 3.0 or better during the first semester.
Eight UMaine players were named to the 2012 Gladiator by SGI/NFHCA Division I National Academic Squad for posting a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or higher through the first semester.
Honorees were Zoe Berkey, Natasha Ford, Elke Jacobse, Hannah Keating of York, Becca Paradee of Gardiner, Nicole Sevey of Skowhegan, Marissa Shaw of Plymouth and Holly Stewart.
Ford and Stewart were named Division I Scholars of Distinction for achieving a cumulative GPA of 3.90 or higher through the first semester.
Young named UMFK volleyball coach
Quintina Young had been named the women’s volleyball head coach at the University of Maine-Fort Kent.
Young, a native of Portland, will graduate from UMFK in May 2013.
Young started her coaching career at UMFK as an assistant coach for the women’s basketball team during the 2012-13 season and will return to the same role in 2013-14.
Young was a two-sport star at UMFK during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 athletic seasons in volleyball and basketball. Before playing for UMFK, Young played both volleyball and basketball for the Hesser Blue Devils in Manchester, N.H., where she earned MVP honors in both sports.
“Quintina Young is an added value to the UMFK Bengals coaching staff with her ability to motivate and demand the most from everyone around her,” UMFK women’s basketball coach Bradley Holabird said. “She has been the ‘voice’ of the Lady Bengals as a player and she will now transition that role as a coach.”