Cooper-Williams, Benitez highlight All-CAA honors for JMU women

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RICHMOND, Va. – Kayla Cooper-Williams and Jackie Benitez highlighted James Madison women’s basketball in the All-Colonial Athletic Association awards as the Defensive Player of the Year and Sixth Player of the Year, respectively. Both Cooper-Williams and Benitez both earned Third Team All-CAA nods. Cooper-Williams was named to the All-Defensive Team and Third Team All-CAA, while Kamiah Smalls and Lexie Barrier earned All-CAA honors for the Dukes.

KAYLA COOPER-WILLIAMS – Redshirt Junior, Dumfries, Va.
Defensive Player of the Year, All-Defensive Team, Third Team All-CAA
Cooper-Williams is the first JMU player named Defensive Player of the Year since Nikki took home the award in 2014. She is just the third student-athlete in program history with the honor. This is the second time she has been named to the All-Defensive Team as she received the award in 2016. Cooper-Williams led the CAA in blocks (81), blocks per game (2.9), rebounds (275), rebounds per game (9.8), offensive rebounds (120), offensive rebounds per game (4.3), while she is second in defensive rebounds (155) and defensive rebounds per game (5.5). She recorded two games this season with nine blocks, the most in a game by a CAA player this season, and tied for ninth most in CAA history. Cooper-William’s current 81 blocks this season is a JMU record and is currently eighth in CAA history for most in a single season. Cooper-Williams also earned All-CAA Third Team honors for the first time in her career.

JACKIE BENITEZ – Redshirt junior, Tobyhanna, Pa.
Sixth Player of the Year, Third Team All-CAA
In her first season playing for the Dukes, Benitez took home the Sixth Player of the Year honor which is also the first in program history. Benitez also earned All-CAA Third Team honors for the first time in her career. She came off the bench in 26 of the Dukes 28 games, averaging 23.9 minutes per game. Benitez leads the Dukes with 72 three pointers made this season, while her scoring average (11.4) is 13th most in the CAA. Her 2.6 three-point field goals made per game is second to Jess Genco of Northeastern. Benitez is second on the team with 50 steals and has also come up with 10 blocks.

KAMIAH SMALLS - Junior, Philadelphia, Pa.
All-CAA First Team
Smalls earned her third All-CAA nod and second-straight First Team honor. She is averaging 16.6 points per game to lead the Dukes which is fourth most in the CAA, while her 48.4 field goal percentage is second best in the CAA. Smalls earned two CAA Player of the Week honors this season for her efforts in pushing the Dukes to a 16-1 league record. She is second on the team with 59 threes behind Benitez. Smalls is in the top-18 in the CAA in six other categories besides her points per game and field goal percentage, including 18th in rebounds per game (5.2), 15th in assists per game (2.7), 10th in defensive rebounds per game (3.9), eighth in free throw percentage (.786), fifth in three-point field goals made per game (2.0) and third in three-point field goal percentage (.404).

LEXIE BARRIER – Junior, Ironton, Ohio
All-CAA Second Team
Barrier received her third All-CAA nomination and second-straight Second Team honor. Barrier is averaging 11 points per game shooting 37-percent from the field which is the third best on the team. She recorded one double-double this season, scoring 14 points while grabbing 11 rebounds against Towson on Feb. 3. She has scored at least 10 points in 18 of the Dukes’ games and led JMU in scoring in five games this season, including a game-high 24 against Northeastern on Jan. 13. She has led the Dukes seven times for steals in a game this season, including a season-high three against William & Mary on Jan. 25.

The Dukes clinched the regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming CAA Women’s Basketball Championship with their 25-4, 17-1 record. JMU earned a first-round bye for the 21st time in program history and will face the winner of the Hofstra-Elon game on Thursday, Mar. 14 at noon.

CAA Player of the Year: Bailey Greenberg, Drexel
CAA Rookie of the Year: Eva Hodgson, William & Mary
CAA Defensive Player of the Year: Kayla Cooper-Williams, James Madison
CAA Sixth Player of the Year: Jackie Benitez, James Madison
CAA Coach of the Year: Diane Richardson, Towson
Dean Ehlers Recipient: Abby Gonzales, Delaware
CAA Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Boogie Brozoski, Hofstra