Mar 9, 2010 11:57 AM by Andrew Masuda

Big West names Santiago MVP; other locals honored

Santa Maria native Kristina Santiago made program history on Monday when she was named the Most Valuable Player of the Big West Conference.

The junior led the Big West with 19.9 points per game, 2.4 steals per game this season. She ranked second in the Conference by averaging 8.5 rebounds per game and .547 field goal percentage.

Santiago reached double digits in points in every single game. She helped lead the Mustangs to an 18-10 overall record, 11-5 in Conference and first-ever number two seed in the Conference Tournament.

Cal Poly's Brittany Lange and Rachel Clancy were honorable mentions in the All-Conference honors.

UC Santa Barbara had two players named to the second team. Sophomore guard Emilie Johnson and Mekia Valentine received the honor. Johnson led the Gauchos with 13.9 scoring average, while Valentine led the Conference with 9.1 rebounds and 4 blocks per game. Senior Megan Williams was an honorable mention.

Atascadero High graduate Haylee Donaghe was an honorable mention. Donaghe, a sixth year senior at UC Davis, was second in the Big West with 2.31 steals per game. Monday, she became the first Aggie in Division I history to be named the Big West Defensive Player of the Year.

Santa Ynez High graduate Ariana Gnekow received the Best Hustle award. A former walk-on, Gnekow averaged nearly 5 points and 5 rebounds her senior year at UCSB.

The Big West Tournament starts Wednesday in Anaheim. UCSB received the #5 seed and will take on #8 Pacific at 12pm. The winner advances to Thursday's second round. Cal Poly received two byes and an automatic berth in to Friday's semifinal, where the Mustangs will take on the highest remaining seed around 2:30 pm.


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