GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – For the first time since the 2016 season, the ECU women’s basketball team will have a pair of players earn postseason honors, including Lashonda Monk being named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, as announced by the league office on Friday morning.
“I’m extremely proud of Lashonda Monk and Taniyah Thompson,” said head coach Kim McNeill. “To get the honors that they did is an unbelievable accomplishment. I’m extremely excited for both of them and proud of what they bring to this team and what they’ve done all year long.”
Along with being named the AAC Defensive Player of the Year, Monk also earned a spot on the AAC Second-Team All-Conference. Monk becomes not only the first ECU player to ever be named Defensive Player of the Year, regardless of conference, but she is also the first non-UConn player to receive the AAC honor. She also becomes the third ECU player to be named Second-Team All-AAC, joining I’Tiana Taylor (2015) and Jada Payne (2016). She also becomes the third ECU player to be named to multiple AAC all-conference teams, joining Taylor and Payne.
“For Lashonda to get Defensive Player of the Year, it just makes us proud as a staff because we are a defensive minded team,” McNeill said. “To be able to get that in her junior year, which means she has another year to get it again, we’re extremely excited for her.”
Joining Monk in being honored by the AAC was freshman Taniyah Thompson, who was a unanimous selection to the league’s All-Freshman Team. Thompson becomes the second Pirate to be named to the AAC All-Freshman team, joining Monk who earned the honor in 2018. Thompson is also just the ninth ECU player overall to make a conference’s all-rookie team.
“Taniyah is one of the hardest workers on our team,” McNeill added. “It’s not a surprise the success that she’s had her freshman season. I’m so proud of her, so excited and excited for her future.”
Monk set numerous records this season with her prowess on the defensive end. The junior guard is third in the country in both steals (121) and steals per game (4.17) as well as leading the AAC in both. She became the first ECU player with multiple nine-steal games in the same season, pulling the feat in wins over Tulsa and Tulane. She also not only broke the ECU career record for steals, but also passed the AAC record and now has 312 for her career. Monk needs just two more takeaways to tie Toina Coley’s ECU single-season steals record of 123.
Monk’s contributions were not limited to the defensive side of the ball. She also led ECU in scoring, averaging 14.7 points, which is ninth in the AAC. She increased that number to 15.3 points in conference games. She finished tenth in the conference in assists, handing out 3.6 per game and was also in the conference’s top-10 in field goal percentage, shooting .772 from the charity stripe.
Thompson has been one of the most productive scorers in the league this season, regardless of class. She finished the regular season averaging 13.7 points, good for 11th in the AAC and first among AAC freshmen. Thompson also led all AAC rookies in steals (1.9) and minutes played (34.7) and increased her scoring average to 14.8 against league opponents. The Hamden, Ct., native had 19 double-digit scoring games and hit the 20-point mark on seven different occasions. She was one of just three AAC freshmen to record a double-double, scoring 16 points to go with 10 rebounds at Tulsa. She also became just the ninth ECU player to make at least six three-pointers in a single game when she went 6-of-8 from beyond the arc against Dayton.
ECU will open its AAC Championship campaign at 2 p.m., on Friday afternoon as the No. 9 seeded Pirates will take on No. 8 Temple in the Mohegan Sun Arena.