Brennan Angel

Cal Poly basketball players Jessica Eggleston and Derek Stockalper were named Monday to respective All-Big West Conference First Teams for the second consecutive year.

The pair of senior forwards were only two of nine Mustang basketball players honored in some respect Monday. For the women, sophomore forward Megan Harrison earned second-team honors, junior guard Toni Newman earned Honorable Mention recognition and guards Ashlee Stewart and Tamara Wells were named to the All-Freshmen Team. For the men, junior guard Dawin Whiten was named to the second team and sophomore guard Trae Clark and senior forward Tyler McGinn received Honorable Mention status.

“It was a goal of mine this season to make first team,” Eggleston said. “I was really shooting to become Player of the Year, but didn’t get that honor, which is fine. It’s a great honor to be nominated by the coaches in the league and seen as an important player.”

Cal Poly women’s head coach Faith Mimnaugh said she would have liked to seen Eggleston be named Big West Player of the Year, but was appreciative of all the honors the Mustangs did rake in.

Eggleston leads Cal Poly (14-13, 9-5 Big West) in points (14) and rebounds (8.2) per game, assists (75) and is second in both steals (54) and blocks (11). UC Riverside junior post player Kemie Nkele, who led the Highlanders to the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big West Tournament with averages of 16 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks, took Player of the Year honors.

“I’m so excited to see Cal Poly clean up,” Mimnaugh said of the awards. “It speaks to the depth of the program. I’m so grateful of the coaches. I do feel like (Eggleston) was deserving of Player of the Year, but Kemie Nkele is deserving.”

Stockalper led the Big West in field-goal percentage this season with a clip of .554. He spearheaded a balanced attack for Cal Poly (18-10, 9-5) with 14.5 points per game and also averaged 6.7 boards and 2.1 assists.

For leading Long Beach State to the No. 1 seed in the Big West tourney, senior guard Aaron Nixon (18.4 ppg) edged Cal State Fullerton senior guard and NBA prospect Bobby Brown (20.2 ppg) for Player of the Year honors.

“I talked to a couple other (conference) coaches and they said (Stockalper) would have been Player of the Year if we were in first place,” Cal Poly men’s head coach Kevin Bromley said.

A defining play in Stockalper’s collegiate career came Saturday when he bounced back from a split lower lip – which he later received stitches for – in the same game to throw down a clinching slam dunk on a fast break.

“(Stockalper) said, ‘coach, I need to be back in the game,’” Bromley said. “No hesitation. Leadership is made, not born. He inspired his teammates. There’s not a selfish bone in his body.”

Stockalper said his lip – noticeably less inflamed Monday than Saturday – is “all right. It’s healing.”

Bromley said he voted for Nixon instead of Brown for Player of the Year not only because the 49ers finished the regular season in first place, but largely because of one play in Long Beach State’s No. 1 seed-clinching 82-76 win at Pacific on ESPN Big Monday on Feb. 26.

That play was a buzzer-beating 3-pointer banked in from NBA range on an inbound play as the first half expired. After the shot – which put the 49ers up by seven – Nixon didn’t pop his jersey, do a dance or strut his way to the locker room. He simply high-fived teammates before walking off the floor, something that caught Bromley’s eye.

“The thing that swayed me is the ESPN game,” Bromley said.

As a whole, the men’s first team is comprised of Brown, Nixon, Stockalper, Cal State Fullerton junior forward Scott Cutley, UC Santa Barbara junior swingman Alex Harris and Long Beach State senior guard Kejuan Johnson. Long Beach State’s Larry Reynolds was named Coach of the Year and UC Riverside swingman Henrik Thomsen Freshman of the Year.

The women’s first team includes Eggleston, Nkele, UC Santa Barbara junior post player Jenna Green, Cal State Northridge senior wings LaJoyce King and Ofa Tulikihihifo and Cal State Fullerton sophomore post player Toni Thomas. UC Riverside’s John Margaritus was named Coach of the Year and UC Santa Barbara forward Jordan Franey Freshman of the Year.

Of being named to the All-Freshmen Team, Wells said: “I really wasn’t expecting to get All-Freshmen Team. I was just trying to do what I could to help the team win. . Now that I’ve got it, I’m in awe. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Wells averaged 3.3 points, 1.1 assists and one steal per game in only 12.6 minutes an outing. As one of only six players on the team to play in all 27 games, she was key in stepping up to help fill the void left by a myriad of players who suffered injuries during the season.

Harrison averaged 11.9 points and 4.9 rebounds, Newman 8.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and three steals and Stewart 3.2 points and 2.4 assists.

Eggleston said having five players awarded various honors is a sign of the program’s growth.

“It just shows how this program is getting better,” she said. “Kudos to our coaches. They’re obviously making us better players. I think everyone’s put in the work this year and gotten themselves better.”

Whiten averaged 11.7 points and 3.2 assists, McGinn 11 points and Clark 8.9 points, 3.6 assists and 1.4 steals.

Both Cal Poly teams begin the Big West Tournament this week.

The third-seeded women will play in the quarterfinals at noon Thursday against one of the teams seeded Nos. 5-8. They depart for the Anaheim Convention Center today.

The second-seeded men play in the semifinals at 9 p.m. Friday on ESPNU against one of the teams seeded Nos. 3-7. They depart Thursday.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *