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Clark Named Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year, Buford Voted to All-Conference Third Team


NEW ORLEANS – Kaye Clark has been voted the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year and En'Dya Buford earned All-Sun Belt Third Team honors as the league office announced its 2024 Women's Basketball End-of-Year Awards on Monday.

A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Clark repeated as the Sun Belt leader in steals and steals per game. She finished the regular season ranked eighth in the country in steals (87) and 12th in steals per game (3.0). In conference play, she collected 54 steals and averaged 3.0 steals per game, also league bests.

Clark started all 29 games this season and collected multiple steals 26 times. She opened the season with six steals in the win over Lincoln (Pa.) on Nov. 6, then bettered that effort with eight steals in a win at South Alabama on Dec. 30. She had another six-steal effort on Jan. 18 at Marshall and added 100 rebounds (31 offensive, 69 defensive) with five blocks to her season totals.

The top defensive player on one of the top defensive teams in the Sun Belt, her effort helped the Monarchs (21-8, 12-6) finish 15th nationally in turnovers forced per game (20.86), 25th in turnover margin (4.59) and three-point percentage defense (.271), and 28th in steals per game (10.7). After leading the conference in scoring defense for most of the season, ODU finished second in the league with 60.0 points allowed per game.

Buford, a Memphis, Tennessee native who transferred to ODU from Jones Junior College this season, is the leading scorer for the Monarchs with 12.4 points per game. She also started all 29 games and finished second in the league behind Clark with 69 steals and 2.38 steals per game. Her season totals include 360 points with 136 rebounds (4.7 rpg) and a team-high 40 makes from beyond the arc.

The senior guard scored in double figures 18 times, scored 20 or more points three times, and was named the Sun Belt Player of the Week on Feb. 27 after helping lead ODU to wins at App State and Georgia State. Buford finished with 17 points against the Mountaineers and set a new career high of 25 points versus the Panthers to help the Monarchs reach 20 wins for the third-straight season. She enters the conference championship shooting .375 from the field, .308 from distance, and .773 at the free-throw line.

The Monarchs earned the No. 4 seed and a double bye for the tournament, which will be held at the Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola, Florida on March 5-11. ODU is scheduled to play a Quarterfinal game this Friday, March 8 at 3 p.m. EST (2 p.m. CST) and awaits the winner of a second round game between No. 5 seed ULM and either No. 12 Georgia Southern or No. 13 Texas State.

The Sun Belt Championship Final is scheduled for next Monday, March 11 at 2 p.m. EST with the winner receiving the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. All games will be streamed on ESPN+ with the exception of the Final, which will air on ESPNU.

2024 Sun Belt Women's Basketball End-of-Year Awards

Coach of the Year: Kim Caldwell, Marshall
Freshman of the Year: Crystal Henderson, Georgia State
Newcomer of the Year: Daisha Bradford, ULM
Player of the Year: Abby Beeman, Marshall
Defensive Player of the Year: Kaye Clark, Old Dominion
Sixth Woman of the Year: Katlyn Manuel, ULM

All-Conference  Teams
First Team
Abby Beeman, Marshall
Izzy Higginbottom, Arkansas State
Tai'Sheka Porchia, Troy
Terren Ward, Georgia Southern
Domonique Davis, Southern Miss

Second Team
Daisha Bradford, ULM
Peyton McDaniel, James Madison
Faith Alston, App State
Ja'Mia Hollings, Troy
Kseniia Kozlova, James Madison

Third Team
Breanna Campbell, Marshall
Makayia Hallmon, Troy
En'Dya Buford, Old Dominion
Mikyla Tolivert, Georgia State
Melyia Grayson, Southern Miss