Provided by LCU Athletics
The Heartland Conference held their Social to announce postseason basketball honors and open events of the Heartland Conference Tournament and the Lady Chaparrals were well represented in their announcement of all-conference and season awards. Head coach Steve Gomez claimed Women's Basketball Coach of the Year and four of his players received accolades, headlined by First Team selection Tess Bruffey claiming Player of the Year and Defender of the Year. Sophomores Maddi Chitsey and Caitlyn Cunyus were named to the Second Team and senior Delaney Gaddis received Honorable Mention honors.
Tess Bruffey became just the third player in conference history to win back-to-back Player of the Year awards and the first since Incarnate Word's Nia Torru accomplished the feat in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Bruffey also became the first place in conference history to with both the Player of the Year and Defender of the Year award in the same season. The Lubbock, Texas native was all across the stat sheet once again averaging 15.3 points, (3rd), 8.5 rebounds (2nd) and 4.0 blocks (1st) per game. Her 105 blocks this season is the most in Division II, and is more than all but four team total blocks in the South Central Region. Bruffey also anchored the nation's top defense, as the Lady Chaps has held opponents to 51.8 points per game this season. Defensively, the four-time All-Conference selection ranks second in blocks per game (4.0) and third nationally in blocks (105). She is LCU's career leader and the Heartland Conference's career leader in blocks with 377, which marks her as the NCAA Division II's career active leader and the eighth highest total in NCAA Division II history (16 away from seventh).
Leading the Lady Chaps to a third unbeaten season in Heartland Conference play, head coach Steve Gomez claims his second Coach of the Year honor, and it comes in a three-year span. Gomez's all-time coach mark (15th season and all at LCU) sits at 359-117 (75.4%). This is the eighth season in which the Lady Chaps have eclipsed 25 wins. This season's squad will mark the eighth under Gomez to suffer less than 10 losses (sixth in last seven seasons) and his squads are 184-30 (86%) over the last seven seasons. The 2016 WBCA NCAA Div. II National Coach of the Year also claimed Sooner Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2005-2006.
Chitsey ranks second on the squad averaging 11.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. She also averaged 11.1 points per game in conference play. The sophomore from Wall, Texas has posted double figures offensively in 13 games this season and has led LCU offensively in six contests, including 28 points against St. Mary's on Jan. 6. Chitsey ranks fourth in the conference in blocks with 28, at a rate of 1.1 per contest (also fourth in the conference). This is Chitsey's first Heartland honors.
Cunyus is one of three Lady Chaps that averaged double figures in conference play with a mark of 10.6 per game. She averages 9.8 points per game overall, to go along with a team leading 3.2 assists per game. LCU averages assists on 65% of the field goals this season, and her 3.2 assists ranks fifth in the conference. The sophomore from Canyon, Texas ranks fifth in the conference with a 1.2 assist/turnover ratio. She leads LCU with 44 three-pointers on the season and is two free-throw attempts shy of becoming eligible to factor into one of the best single-season free-throw shooting marks in program history. She is 91.7% (44-of-48) from the line this season. The All-Conference honor is Cunyus' first of her career.
Gaddis is one of three seniors on LCU's roster and she is valuable towards LCU's zone defense. The Glenwood Springs, Colo. native averages 6.0 points per game (8.6 points per game average the last seven games), along with 3.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and a team leading 31 steals. The conference honor is her first.
The Lady Chaps, making their third appearance in the Heartland Conference Tournament (in as many eligible seasons) open their play in the tournament Thursday as the No.1 seed facing No.1-seeded Texas A&M International at 7:30 p.m. at UMAC. LCU is 5-1 all-time at the tournament and has made it to the championship game each season (both against St. Edward's). The winner of Thursday's LCU contest faces the winner of Oklahoma Christian vs. Newman on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.