UCF Earns AAC Honors, Battles Player of the Year

FORT WORTH – A dominant run through the American Athletic Conference has led to an abundance of accolades for the UCF women's basketball team.
Diamond Battles was named The American Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and was a unanimous first team all-conference selection. Head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson was named The American Coach of the Year. Brittney Smith was tabbed as The American's Sixth Player of the Year. Masseny Kaba and Tay Sanders both garnered third team all-conference laurels.
Battles had a breakout season for the Knights. She led UCF with 13.5 points per game in conference games. She also averaged 3.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game. She earned her first AAC Player of the Week honor on Jan. 31. Battles entered this year without a 20-point performance on her resume. She has six this season and is one of five league players with six or more 20-point games, including a career-best 25 points against Memphis.
The Winter Haven, Florida, native leads the way for the top-ranked scoring defense in the country. UCF has held its opponents to 50 points or fewer in nine of its 15 league contests this season and had the top scoring defense in the conference at 48.0 points per game allowed.
Battles is the first Knight to earn Player of the Year since Chariya Davis garnered the accolade in 1999 and is the first Defensive Player of the Year since Celeste Hudson was tabbed in 2005.
Coach Abe was tabbed as Coach of the Year for the fourth time in her coaching career. She guided UCF to its first American Athletic Conference regular season title and the program's first regular season championship since 2005. Since her arrival in Orlando, the Knights have secured a top four finish in The American for six straight seasons with a first-round bye at The American Championship. She has guided UCF to 14-1 mark in The American this year, marking UCF's most wins in since joining the league in 2013-14. The Knights are 22-3 overall. Her recognition marks the first time a UCF head coach has earned Coach of the Year since Joi Williams in 2009.
Brittney Smith became the third Knight to earn the Sixth Player of the Year. The Orlando native came off the bench to average 10.6 points per game while pulling down the second-most rebounds per game in conference action at 5.8. She shot 50 percent or better from the field in 10 of UCF's 15 league games. She tallied a pair of double-doubles against conference opponents, closing out the regular season with a 12-point, career-high 14 rebounds against Tulsa.
UCF's trio of team captains each garnered all-conference recognition. In addition to Battles' first team nod, Masseny Kaba and Tay Sanders each earned a spot on the third team.
Kaba collected third team honors for the first time in her career. She averaged 10.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per contest during league play. The Dorchester, Massachusetts native posted the longest double-digit scoring streak of her career, an eight-game stretch that included a career-high 21 points. Kaba, who was named The American Player of the Week on Feb. 7, was an all-freshman team selection in 2017-18 and earned an all-tournament spot in 2020-21.
Sanders earned her second all-conference nod, averaging 9.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. She was named The American Player of the Week on Jan. 17 after averaging 20.5 points per game while shooting 57.7 percent from the field. She scored a career-high 23 points against Houston. The Bartow, Florida native was a second team honoree in 2020-21.

The top-seeded Knights open the 2022 Air Force Reserve American Athletic Conference Championship on March 8, playing the winner of the No. 8 Tulsa-No. 9 Wichita State matchup at 1 p.m. ET in Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
2021-22 American Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Awards
Player of the Year
Diamond Battles, Sr., G, UCF
Freshman of the Year
Temira Poindexter, F, Tulsa
Coach of the Year
Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, UCF
Defensive Player of the Year
Diamond Battles, Sr., G, UCF
Newcomer of the Year
Moon Ursin, R-Sr., G, Tulane
Most Improved Player of the Year
Taniyah Thompson, Jr., G, East Carolina
Sixth Player of the Year
Brittney Smith, Sr., F, UCF
Ambassador Award
Seraphine Bastin, Jr., G, Wichita State
First Team All-Conference
Diamond Battles, Sr., G, UCF*
Taniyah Thompson, Jr., G, East Carolina
Elena Tsineke, So., G, South Florida
Mia Davis, Grad, F, Temple*
Moon Ursin, R-Sr., G, Tulane
Second Team All-Conference
Laila Blair, So., G, Houston
Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, R-Sr., F, South Florida
Bethy Mununga, Sr., F, South Florida
Savannah Wilkinson, R-Sr., F, SMU
Wyvette Mayberry, So, G, Tulsa
Third Team All-Conference
Masseny Kaba, 5th, F, UCF
Tay Sanders, 5th, G, UCF
Kayla White, Sr., G, SMU
Krystal Freeman, R-Sr., F, Tulane
Dynah Jones, R-Jr., G, Tulane
All-Freshman Team
Braylyn Milton, G, Cincinnati
Tiarra East, G, Temple
Aniya Gourdine, G, Temple*
Delanie Crawford, G, Tulsa
Temira Poindexter, F, Tulsa*
*denotes unanimous selection