AAC honors Pirates Payne and Taylor as all-conference

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9OYS Sports

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – East Carolina Women’s Basketball seniors Jada Payne and I’Tiana were named 2016 All-American Athletic Conference selections according to an announcement by the league office on Thursday.

Payne received all-conference first team recognition for the third year in a row, becoming just the second player in program history and the first since Tonya Hargrove from1990-92 to accomplish the feat. Taylor has now earned a second team nod in each of her two seasons in the American Conference.

“I’m so proud of Jada and I.T., for all of their hard work and to be chosen among the best players in the American Conference for the second year in a row speaks volumes,” Head Coach Heather Macy said. “They’ve both had outstanding seasons and even better careers for us. What they’ve accomplished at East Carolina is just a sample of what lies ahead for both of them as they finish their last year of college and prepare for professional careers.”

A Hickory, N.C., native, Payne led the Pirates and finished the regular season ranked third in the conference in scoring with 19.4 points per game. She also tops all ECU players in field goal percentage (.479), free throw percentage (.795), steals (1.9), and blocks (0.6), while her 8.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game rank second on the team, respectively.

Payne has recorded 28 double-digit scoring games, 16 performances with 20-plus points, 15 games with three or more assists and 11 double-doubles while being named to The American’s Weekly Honor Roll six times. She is also one of just 16 guards nationally to be named to the Dawn Staley Award Mid-Season Watch List. She ranks No. 3 on ECU’s all-time scoring list and is just 13 points shy of 2,000 for her four-year career.

Taylor is East Carolina’s second-leading scorer with 14.1 points per game, while her 10.4 rebounds per contest bests all Pirates and ranks third in the conference. She is one of just three players in the league to average a double-double this season. The Pflugerville, Texas native has scored in double-figures 26 times, and leads The American with 15 double-doubles. Taylor has produced six 20-point performances and has posted at least 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the same game four different times. She has been chosen to the conference’s weekly honor roll on five occasions in 2015-16.

Seeded eighth in the 2016 American Athletic Conference Championship, East Carolina will take on No. 9 seed Cincinnati in Friday’s first round at Mohegan Sun Arena. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

2016 American Athletic Conference All-Conference First Team

Moriah Jefferson, Sr., G, UConn *

Breanna Stewart, Sr., F, UConn *

Morgan Tuck, Jr., F, UConnJada Payne, Sr., G/F, East Carolina

Courtney Williams, Sr., G, USF *

Alliya Butts, So., G, Temple

2016 American Athletic Conference All-Conference Second TeamI’Tiana Taylor, Sr., F, East Carolina

Ariel Hearn, Sr., G, Memphis

Kitija Laksa, Fr., F, USF

Feyonda Fitzgerald, Jr., G, Temple

Kolby Morgan, So., G, Tulane

2016 American Athletic Conference All-Conference Third Team

Kia Nurse, So., G, UConn

Alisia Jenkins, Sr., F, USF

Alicia Froling, So., F, SMU

Leslie Vorpahl, Jr., G, Tulane

Ashley Clark, Sr., G, Tulsa

2016 American Athletic Conference All-Freshman Team

Napheesa Collier, G/F, UConn

Katie Lou Samuelson, G/F, UConn *

Serithia Hawkins, G, Houston *

Kitija Laksa, F, USF *

Taylor Emery, G, Tulane

2016 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year

Moriah Jefferson, Sr., G, UConn *

2016 American Athletic Conference Most Improved Player of the Year

Leslie Vorpahl, Jr., G, Tulane

2016 American Athletic Conference Sportsmanship Award

Morgan Tuck, Sr., F, UConn

2016 American Athletic Conference Sixth Player of the Year

Shalethia Stringfield, Sr., G, USF

2016 American Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year

McKenzie Adams, So., G, SMU

* denotes unanimous pick

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