UNC’s Davis named Big Sky MVP; MSU’s White named top defender


BOISE, Idaho (March 7, 2021) — The Big Sky Conference announces its 2020-21 Big Sky Women’s Basketball All-Conference team as voted on by the league’s head coaches. 

This year’s all-conference first team featured five players from four teams, with each player making their first appearance.  Three sophomores, a redshirt senior, and a graduate transfer make up this season’s first team.

Northern Colorado’s Alisha Davis was named the Big Sky Conference Most Valuable Player and is an unanimous first-team selection after a stellar season. The sophomore forward was the only player this year to finish with a double-double average. 

Davis finished the season as the conference’s leading rebounder– a title she held the entire year—with 222 total rebounds. Davis’s 10.1 rebounds per game average coupled with her 16.5 points per game helped Davis secure the MVP title.

This season, Davis had a conference-best 13 double-doubles to rank 13th in the country.

Idaho sophomore Beyonce Bea was also a unanimous first-team all-league selection. Bea helped guide the Vandals to a second-place finish in the regular season.  This year, Bea ranked third in scoring in the Big Sky and ended the season with 16.5 points per game while also having the fifth-best shooting percentage at 42.6 percent.  Bea was a top 5 rebounder in the conference and averaged 7.8 rebounds per game. 

Darian White of Montana State is the 2021 Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year/ by Brooks Nuanez

The final sophomore to make the first team was Darian White of Montana State. White is also this season’s Defensive Player of the Year. Last season’s Freshman of the Year led the conference in steals this season and averaged 2.8 per game.  She helped Montana State earn a third seed and a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

“We’re thrilled for Darian to be recognized by the conference for her dynamic impact in nearly every facet of the game,” MSU head coach Tricia Binford said in a Montana State press release. “She is an incredible playmaker, explosive scorer, and creates numerous extra possessions for our team whether it’s offensive/defensive rebounds or steals on the defensive end.

“This young lady plays her heart out every second of the game. There is not a play Darian takes off. Defensively, she is disruptive and has really elevated our team’s defense with her contagious energy. She is truly special and so deserving of the wonderful recognition.”

Idaho State senior guard Dora Goles earned a spot on this year’s all-conference team after a year where she helped lead the Bengals to a regular-season title and their best season since 2011-12.  Goles was a part of a two-headed attack and led the Bengals in scoring this season with 12.9 points per game while shooting 44 percent from the field. 

The final player to make the all-conference first team is Idaho forward Gabi Harrington.  The graduate transfer who spent the first seasons of her career at Montana led the Vandals with 16.9 points, 6.8 rebounds per game and started in 13 of the 15 games she appeared in.

The rest of the individual award winners went to Eastern Washington’s Maisie Burnham, who was named the Freshman of the Year. Idaho’s Hailey Christopher was named the league’s Top Reserve, and Northern Arizona’s Jacqulynn Nakai was named the Newcomer of the Year.

Tori Martell, Montana State’s lone senior, earned second-team all-league recognition. Last season’s Top Reserve. averaged 12.7 points per game while shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc and hitting a league-best 2.7 triples per contest.

Montana State senior Tori Martell goes to the rim against Montana’s Abby Anderson earlier this season/ by Brooks Nuanez

“We’re very proud of Tori and the recognition by our conference for the impact she has on the game,” Binford said. “Tori has elevated her game every season and has been able to shoot and score at such an elite and national level. She has evolved into a tremendous leader on consistency and ability to step up in big moments. Tori had done this while completing a nursing degree.

Montana’s post duo of junior Abby Anderson and sophomore Carmen Gfeller earned third-team all-league recognition.

Gfeller finished the regular season shooting 53.4 percent to lead the Big Sky and tied for second at the free throw line (.868). Her scoring average of 14.5 ranked sixth in the league.

“For her to lead the league in field goal percentage is a huge credit to her and how consistent she’s been. She’s been a great teammate,” UM interim head coach Mike Petrino in a press release.

Anderson had a breakout season in 2019-20, when her numbers spiked across the board. In 2020-21, her performance jumped again.

She is averaging 12.3 points on 46.5 percent shooting and 6.8 rebounds, and she leads the Big Sky in blocked shots (2.3/g) for one of the Big Sky’s better defensive teams.

“Abby had a breakout year last year and just elevated her overall game this year,” Petrino said. “She continued to improve and was a huge factor for us offensively and defensively.”

2020-21 Big Sky Conference Women’s Basketball All-Conference Team
First Team
Alisha DavisForwardNorthern ColoradoSophomore
Beyonce BeaGuard/ForwardIdahoSophomore
Darian WhiteGuardMontana StateSophomore
Dora GolesGuardIdaho StateR-Senior
Gabi HarringtonForwardIdahoGraduate Transfer
Second Team
Gina MarxenGuardIdahoJunior
Liz GravesGuardSouthern UtahGraduate Transfer
Diaba KonateGuardIdaho StateR-Sophomore
Regan SchenckGuardNorthern ArizonaJunior
Tori MartellGuardMontana StateSenior
Third Team
Carmen GfellerForwardMontanaR-Sophomore
Khiarica RasheedForwardNorthern ArizonaSenior
Desirae HansenGuardPortland StateJunior
Abby AndersonForwardMontanaR-Junior
Kylie JimenezGuardPortland StateSenior
Honorable Mention
Jacqulynn NakaiGuardNorthern ArizonaSenior
Maisie BurnhamWingEastern WashingtonFreshman
Summer MenkeGuardSacramento StateJunior
Cherita DaughertyGuardSouthern UtahJunior
Daryn HickokForwardWeber StateSophomore
 Individual Award Winners 
Most Valuable PlayerAlisha DavisNorthern Colorado 
Freshman of the YearMaisie BurnhamEastern Washington 
Defensive Player of the YearDarian WhiteMontana State 
Newcomer of the YearJacqulynn NakaiNorthern Arizona 
Top ReserveHailey ChristopherIdaho 

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