Cal’s Kristine Anigwe earns USBWA 2016 National Freshman of the Year honor

Infographic: Cal Athletics.

California’s Kristine Anigwe earned the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year honor Sunday prior to tipoff of the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis.

She is Cal’s first national honoree in program history, and is the second player in Pac-12 history to win the award. Stanford’s Candice Wiggins was a co-recipient in 2004-05.

“I feel humbled and grateful to win this award,” Anigwe said. “It was fun and challenging to play against some of the top players in the country this season. I couldn’t have done it without the support from my teammates and coaches. I’m blessed that they believed in me and I’m looking forward to building on what I learned this season while I live my dream playing at Cal.”

The USBWA’s National Freshman of the Year is determined by a vote of USBWA members.

“It is an incredible honor for Kristine and our entire Cal Women’s Basketball Program that she has been recognized at the highest level, and selected from amongst an incredibly talented group of freshman student-athletes,” said Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb.

The Phoenix, Ariz., product averaged 20.3 points and 8.9 rebounds through the regular season, skyrocketing through the Cal record books to become the program’s leading freshman scorer. Her 567 regular-season points were the most among all Power Five freshmen, and second-most among all freshmen nationally. She led the country’s freshmen in free throws made.

Also voted the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Anigwe averaged 20.5 ppg and 9.3 rpg in 31 total appearances. She scored in double figures in 30 of those 31 appearances and notched 16 20-point games and 15 double-doubles, displaying her talents as one of the best post players in the country.

“Kristine, quite simply, is a special talent with a competitive spirit,” Gottlieb said. “She loves the game of basketball and has a tireless work ethic. Her skill set and athleticism were put to the test every night in the toughest conference in the country, and as a freshman, she was able to raise her game and produce at a high level on a consistent basis.”

She propelled Cal through its magical run in the Pac-12 Tournament, upsetting Utah and Arizona State before falling to UCLA in the semifinals, with a team-high 22.7 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. Anigwe logged a double-double in each of Cal’s three tournament games while shooting 63.2 percent (24-38) from the field and 87 percent (20-23) at the line to earn a spot on the Pac-12 All-Tournament Team.

Anigwe’s standout debut season saw her break into the top 10 of Cal’s single-season records in seven different categories: scoring average (3rd, 20.5 ppg), free throws made (4th, 169), free throw attempts (4th, 224), field goals made (5th, 233), points scored (6th, 635), field goal percentage (9th, 57.0 percent) and rebounds (10th, 289).

“We are humbled that she has been recognized by the USBWA, we are proud of what she has accomplished thus far, and we are excited for the great things in store for Kristine and her teammates in the future,” Gottlieb said.

Anigwe is the near-consensus national Freshman of the Year, also earning the distinction from but missing out on espnW’s award.

The newcomer picked up a conference-record eight Freshman of the Week nods en route to earning first team All-Pac-12, Pac-12 All-Freshman and honorable mention Pac-12 All-Defensive laurels.

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