Nord, Covington honored by C-USA

Sara Nord and Jazz Covington were both honored among the All-Conference USA teams today.

Head coach Joe Curl and senior forward Chandi Jones of regular season championship Houston, headline the list of Conference USA award winners as announced by the league office today. The 2004 C-USA Tournament gets underway in Fort Worth, Texas.

Curl was named Coach of the Year after leading Houston to its first-ever C-USA regular season title. The Cougars claimed their best record ever in league play with a 13-1 conference mark, while also becoming the first school since the 1995-96 season to clinch the league crown with only one loss. In the first season of the league, DePaul won the title with a 13-1 league mark and 21-10 record. UH also becomes the ninth different school to earn at least a share of the regular season crown in the league's first nine seasons. The Cougars, who earned their highest ranking ever in school history with a No. 11 showing in this week's Associated Press poll, have now won nine straight and 19 out of their last 20 games overall.

Jones became the first player in C-USA history to be recognized as Player of the Year in three consecutive seasons. Jones currently leads the league and ranks fourth in the nation with 22.0 points per game. On Feb. 15, she became the all-time scoring leader in C-USA history. With 21 points against East Carolina, Jones surpassed the previous record of 2,488 held by Memphis' Tamika Whitmore (1996-99). She now has 2,559 points, becoming the first C-USA player to reach the 2,500-plus plateau. This season, she has tallied three 30-plus point performances, including a career-high tying 39 points against Tulane on Feb. 8. Jones has reached double-figure scoring in all 129 games of her collegiate career.

Joining Jones on the first team are DePaul's Khara Smith, East Carolina's Courtney Willis, Louisville's Sara Nord and TCU's Sandora Irvin. Smith ranks second in the league in scoring (22.1) and rebounding with 12.1 boards per game. She also led the league, posting 20 double-doubles during the season. Willis is third among the conference leaders in scoring (19.1) and rebounding (10.3). She also posted a season-high 41 points against TCU on Feb. 13, marking the highest total in C-USA action this year. For the fourth consecutive year, Nord led the league in assists (6.48), while also placing first in three-point field goals made with 3.44 per game. She is the C-USA all-time leader in assists with 831. Irvin led C-USA in rebounds (12.1 pg) and blocked shots (4.08), while also ranking among the league's top 10 leaders in field goal percentage (51.8).

The All-Conference second team includes: Cincinnati senior guard Valerie King, DePaul junior forward Charlene Smith, Houston junior forward/center Sancho Lyttle, Louisville freshman forward Jazz Covington and USF freshman forward Jessica Dickson.

Named to the All-Conference third team were three forwards: Victoria Crawford of Memphis, Angie Lewis of Saint Louis and Natasha Thomas of UAB, along with two guards: Jenni Dant of DePaul and Jennifer Jackson of East Carolina.

USF's Jessica Dickson was named Freshman of the Year, after leading the nation's freshmen in scoring (18.7 ppg). Joining Dickson on the All-Freshman team is Louisville's Jazz Covington, USF's Nalini Miller, Southern Miss' Deondra Carter and TCU's Natasha Lacy.

The league's Sixth Player of the Year award went to Victoria Crawford of Memphis, while Defensive Player of the Year honors were given to TCU's Sandora Irvin for the second consecutive season. Crawford has come off the bench and recorded six 20-plus point games this season. She currently leads the team and ranks among the league's top 10 scorers with 15.9 points per game. Irvin is C-USA's career block leader with 315 and is currently only 27 blocks away from breaking her own C-USA single-season record for blocks (128) set last season.

A total of 11 out of the 15 players that earned all-conference recognition were juniors and seniors. Four of the honorees were underclassmen. DePaul had the most overall selections with three, while East Carolina, Houston and Louisville each had two.

Conference USA award winners were selected by a panel including the league's head coaches, sports information directors and media representatives from each league city.


All-Conference First Team
Sandora Irvin, TCU F Jr. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Chandi Jones, Houston F Sr. Bay City, Texas
Sara Nord, Louisville G Sr. Jeffersonville, Ind.
Khara Smith, DePaul F So. Hillside, Ill.
Courtney Willis, East Carolina F/C Sr. Fayetteville, N.C.

Second Team
Jazz Covington, Louisville F Fr. Adel, Ga.
Jessica Dickson, USF F Fr. Ocala, Fla.
Valerie King, Cincinnati G Jr. Washington Courthouse, Ohio
Sancho Lyttle, Houston F/C Jr. Port Arthur, Texas
Charlene Smith, DePaul G/F Jr. Bellwood, Ill.

Third Team
Victoria Crawford, Memphis F Jr. Birmingham, Ala.
Jenni Dant, DePaul G Jr. Lincolnshire, Ill.
Jennifer Jackson, East Carolina G/F Jr. Farmville, Va.
Angie Lewis, Saint Louis F Sr. St. Louis, Mo.
Natasha Thomas, UAB F Sr. Moulton, Ala.

All-Freshman Team
Jazz Covington, Louisville F Fr. Adel, Ga.
Jessica Dickson, USF F Fr. Ocala, Fla.
Natasha Lacy, TCU G Fr. El Paso, Texas
Nalini Miller, USF F Fr. Laurinburg, N.C.
Deondra Carter, Southern Miss G/F Fr. Pearl River, La.

Coach of the Year
Joe Curl, Houston

Player of the Year
Chandi Jones, F, Houston

Freshman of the Year
Jessica Dickson, F, USF

Defensive Player of the Year Sandora Irvin, F, TCU

Sixth Player of the Year Victoria Crawford, F, Memphis

Cardinal Authority Top Stories