Southern Miss women’s basketball coach Joye Lee-McNelis was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year for the 2016-17 campaign on Monday.
The Hancock County native has led the Golden Eagles to a 21-9 overall record and a 13-5 mark in C-USA play. Lee-McNelis is in her 13th year on the job at USM.
It marks the second time that Lee-McNelis has won the honor after receiving the award in 2014.
It’s been a trying year personally for Lee-McNelis, who announced she was taking a leave of absence from the program on Feb. 14 after a small mass was located in the upper left lobe of her lung. She was diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma that is contained.
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She missed three games with the team, but returned when she learned that a biopsy on a second growth, which is on a trapezoid muscle, was benign, according to WDAM.com. That meant she would not have to go through chemotherapy treatment before her scheduled surgery to remove the contained malignancy in the upper lobe of her left lung.
Also on Monday, senior guard Brittany Dinkins was named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year. She led the conference in total steals – 100.
The USM women are set to play the winner of Old Dominion-UTEP in the Conference USA Tournament quarterfinals at 9 p.m. on Thursday in Birmingham, Ala.