Four Radford women’s basketball players earned 2018-2019 Big South All-Conference Team honors the league office announced on Monday evening.
Highlander senior Guard/Forward Destinee Walker and redshirt Junior Forward Lydia Rivers were both selected to the First-Team and redshirt Junior Center Sydney Nunley and Junior Guard Khiana Johnson were named to the Second Team. Radford Head Coach Mike McGuire was voted by his peers as the Coach of the Year for the second straight season and redshirt-Junior Guard Jen Falconer was named to the All-Academic Team.
Walker has lived up to her pre-season All-Big South First-Team billing with a fine all-around season. The Florence, South Carolina native scored 20 or more point five different times, including a career-high 26 points in the victory at Winthrop. She has been incredibly consistent, reaching double-figures in scoring in 24-of-29 contests. Walker ranks seventh in the conference in scoring (13.9 ppg.), 12th in rebounding (6.4) and is 13th in 3-point field goals made (1.5). The West Florence graduate has moved into sixth-place all-time at Radford with 1,267 career points.
“Destinee has had a consistent and steady senior season,” McGuire stated. “She has been committed to doing whatever the team needs from game to game and she always steps up to the challenge. All-conference players step up and play consistent. She is easily one of the best players in the Big South Conference and I am excited she was rewarded for our team success and her performance throughout the course of the season. Destinee has been a first-team all-conference player two of the past three seasons. The two years she was named first-team, we won the regular season title. She has had a huge impact on our program and the Big South Conference.”
Rivers has enjoyed her finest campaign in a Highlander uniform as she leads the Big South in rebounding (10.2 pg.), which currently positions her at 36th in the country in the category. The Kinston, North Carolina native, who was a pre-season All-Big South Second-Team pick, has a conference-high 13 double-doubles and has reached double-figures in rebounds 15 different times. Rivers is also eleventh in the league in scoring (11.4 ppg.), seventh in blocked shots (1.2 pg.) and seventh in field goal percentage (.474). The Kinston graduate, who has grabbed 16 rebounds three different times this season, is now sixth all-time at Radford with 804 caroms.
“Lydia has always been a special player and competitor for us,” McGuire said. “She has always done little things to help our teams be successful over the past three years. This year, we saw what Lydia can do with a greater role and how she can really impact a game on both ends of the floor. Lydia has had one of the most productive conference seasons I have ever been a part of. The number of double-doubles that she produced were very impressive. Lydia is deserving of this first team all-conference recognition.”
Nunley has enjoyed a breakout season after receiving a medical red-shirt in 2017-2018. The Lewisburg, West Virginia native is second in the league with 12 double-doubles, including a run of seven games in a row in the first-half of the conference season. Nunley is also second in the conference in rebounding (9.6 pg.) but leads the league in the category at 11.8 per game in Big South play. A three-time Big South Player of the Week selection this season, the Greenbrier East product is also averaging 10.9 points per game (19th in the conference) and is second on the circuit with 1.6 blocks per game. Nunley delivered a monster game in the home victory against High Point, amassing 22 points (tied career-high) and 20 rebounds (career-high) against the Panthers.
“It was awesome to have Sydney back this season,” McGuire said. “A lot of people will never understand what she had to endure to get herself back to playing and competing. Sydney came on strong after Christmas and proved that she is a dominant presence inside for our team. She had some impressive conference performances and averaged a double-double in conference play. Sydney had an all-conference season and I am excited for her to receive this recognition.”
Johnson is considered by many to be the glue player on the Highlander roster as she has sparked the team on both ends of the floor in numerous key moments. She ranks 16th in the league in scoring (11.0 ppg.), fourth in assists (3.8 pg.), fifth in assist/turnover ratio (1.2) and is fourth in minutes (34.7). The Chesapeake, Virginia native has reached double-figures in scoring 20 times, including a career-best 19 in the victory at Campbell. The Western Branch product had multiple steals ten different times, including three in the victory at VCU. She also handed out a career-high 10 assists in the win at USC Upstate.
“Khiana is a special talent and an incredibly important part of our team,” McGuire explained. “Khiana is dynamic and does so many things to help our team be successful. She does a lot more for our team than most will realize. We ask her to be a playmaker, run the team at times, and also score. We do ask a lot of her at different times during a game and she accepts those roles. Khiana took a big jump this season and developed into an all-conference guard. We are proud of her.”
McGuire wins his third Big South Coach of the Year accolade in just his sixth season at Radford after guiding the squad to a 23-6 regular-season record. McGuire received seven first-place votes and 25 total points to become the just the third coach in Big South history with three Coach of the Year awards. He led the Highlanders to a program-record 17 Big South victories and the 2018-19 Big South regular season championship, the program’s second in the past three years. The team performed extremely well outside of the conference as well, picking up non-conference wins against East Tennessee State, Temple, Virginia and VCU. The Highlanders are currently enjoying a school-record streak of 15 straight victories. The squad is ranked 13th in the country in scoring defense and are seventh in field goal percentage defense. Radford leads the league in seven statistical categories — scoring defense (55.2), scoring margin (+9.3), field goal defense (34.0 percent), 3FG defense (25.1 percent), rebounds (44.2), rebound margin (+5.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.0). The Highlanders finished the 18-game Big South season tops in scoring defense (52.3), scoring margin (+15.1), field goal defense (32.2) and three-point defense (22.8), grabbed a league-best 45.2 rebounds, and finished first with a +8.0 scoring margin.
“It is an honor to be the women’s basketball coach at Radford University,” McGuire stated. “To be named the Big South Coach of the Year is a reflection of the people we have in and around our women’s basketball program. It takes hard work by so many to have a successful season as well as belief in what we are trying to do. I would like to thank my wife, Nataleigh, for her constant support. Without her by my side, none of this is possible. I would also like to thank our coaches, players, and administration for the opportunity to lead this program. Radford women’s basketball is special!”
Falconer is currently pursuing her master’s degree in business and owns a sensational 3.88 grade point average. She has started 23 contests this season at the point for Radford. The Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania native is second in the Big South in assist/turnover ratio (1.7) in conference games. The Cumberland Valley graduate dished a career-high eight assists in the home win against Longwood.