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Dec. 2, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith was named the NSCAA South Region Coach of the Year following the most successful season in Gamecock history, the organization announced Wednesday.

Smith earns the honor for the second time in her career after also being named the Northeast Region Coach of the Year in her final season at Rhode Island in 2000. She is now one of eight Division I finalists for national coach of the year honors, which will be announced in late December.

Smith guided South Carolina (19-4-2, 7-3-1 SEC) to school records for conference (seven) and overall (19) victories this season en route to earning SEC Coach of the Year honors. She led the team to a final No. 8 ranking and advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 as a national No. 2 seed. The NCAA Tournament bid was the third consecutive for the team.

One of the highlights of the season came in Orange Beach, Ala., when Smith led her team to the program’s first SEC Championship by knocking off three consecutive nationally ranked teams in Georgia, Florida and LSU in a five-day stretch.

The Gamecocks set program records for single-game and yearly average attendance in 2009. The NCAA Third Round game against Wake Forest brought 4,347 fans to Stone Stadium, and the Gamecocks finished with an average attendance of 1,490 fans this season, a mark that ranked second in the SEC. The game against Wake Forest was the highest attended NCAA Tournament match in the nation this year.