Youngstown State senior Indiya Benjamin has been named Second-Team All-Horizon League, and Chelsea Olson has been voted to the All-Freshman Team. The conference announced its all-league teams and special award winners on Wednesday, two days before play begins in Motor City Madness.
Benjamin earns postseason recognition for the second time in her career and for the first time since being named to the All-Freshman Team in 2015. She is the first YSU guard to be named first or second-team all-league since 1999-00 when Brianne Kenneally was named the Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Year and Leslie Majewski was named second-team all-conference. Olson gives the Penguins four selections on the All-Freshman Team in the last five years, joining Jenna Hirsch in 2014, Benjamin in 2015 and Mary Dunn in 2017.
"I'm extremely proud of Indiya and Chelsea for being honored by the Horizon League," YSU head coach John Barnes said. "They both have worked very hard and been integral to the success the team has had this season."
"Indiya has been a great leader for us and has rewritten the record book throughout her years. Chelsea has grown tremendously throughout the year and will continue to be a huge part of YSU's success in the future. I'm so happy for both of them as well as the team, because I'm sure both Indiya and Chelsea would agree that they couldn't have gotten these honors without the help of their teammates."
Benjamin is the second player in Horizon League history to lead the conference in assists per game in three straight seasons. The senior point guard from Lima, Ohio, is averaging 5.3 assists overall this season, and she's upped that to an impressive 6.1 assists in conference play. She had 20 more assists in the 18-game league schedule than any other player. Benjamin also ranked among the league leaders in scoring (26th), 3-pointers (15th), assist-to-turnover ratio (fifth) and minutes (eighth).
Benjamin has led the Penguins' offense for four years as its point guard, and she has assembled an impressive career stat line. She owns YSU's career records for assists, 3-pointers, games played and games started, and she ranks third in conference history with 608 career assists. Benjamin is the only player in the country regardless of division to have at least 600 assists and 200 3-pointers.
Olson was the Horizon League's most versatile freshman, and she's played her best as the Penguins finished the season winning nine of their last 11 games. Over those 11 contests, the Westby, Wis., native led the Penguins with 12.1 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game and 21 3-pointers. Olson was named the conference's Freshman of the Week a record four consecutive weeks from Jan. 22 through Feb. 12 during that stretch.
For the year is averaging 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. She has made 42 3-pointers, and her .402 shooting percentage is the best among YSU's guards. Against the league, she averaged 10.1 points and a team-best 5.4 rebounds.
Wright State senior Chelsea Welch was named the Horizon League Player of the Year, and she was joined on the first team by a veteran group of Khayla Livingston (senior; Cleveland State), Jessica Lindstrom (senior; Green Bay), Danielle Lawrence (senior; IUPUI) and Ashanti Abshaw (junior; Cleveland State). In addition to Benjamin, the second team consisted of Allie LeClaire (senior; Green Bay), Macee Williams (freshman; IUPUI), Steph Kostowicz (senior; Milwaukee) and Jenny Lindner (senior; Milwaukee). Olson was joined on the All-Freshman Team by Lexey Tobel (Detroit Mercy), Karly Murphy (Green Bay), Kailey Coffey (Northern Kentucky) and Williams.
IUPUI's Austin Parkinson was named the Horizon League Coach of the Year, and Williams was voted the Freshman of the Year. Oakland senior Taylor Jones was tabbed the Sixth Player of the Year, and Green Bay's Jen Wellnitz is the Defensive Player of the Year.
The Penguins will play Milwaukee in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Little Caesars Horizon League Women's Basketball Championship on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and 1390 WNIO.