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Two more prizes for Beard

Alana Beard may have wanted to lead her team to victory in New Orleans this weekend, but instead she had to settle for picking up several individual national honors.

Beard added two National Player of the Year honors to her list of accolades, which already included USBWA and ESPN.com National Player of the Year.

This weekend Beard was also honored with the State Farm Wade Trophy and Associated Press Player of the Year distinctions.

"I am just really happy for Alana," Duke head coach Gail Goestenkors said. "Hopefully, it will help ease her pain a bit.... I think it is fitting because she has always put her team above herself and team goals above individual goals."

In winning the Associated Press Player of the Year award, Beard received 39 of the total 47 votes. Behind Beard was 2003 recipient Diana Taurasi with four votes, Kelly Mazzante of Penn State with three votes and Stanford's Nicole Powell, who received one vote.

The State Farm Wade Trophy, which was named after three-time national champion Delta State University coach Lily Margaret Wade, was given to Taurasi of Connecticut last season.

While the State Farm Wade Trophy was considered for years to be the Heisman of women's basketball, this season marks the inaugural year of the Women's Wooden Award. Beard and the four other finalists--Mazzante, Powell, Taurasi and Shereka Wright of Purdue--will be in Los Angeles for the presentation of the award April 9.

Saturday, Beard was also named a Kodak All-America for the third consecutive year. Mazzante, Powell, Taurasi and Lindsay Whalen, whose University of Minnesota squad defeated the Blue Devils March 30 to advance into the Final Four, were the other three-year winners.

Despite being recognized for her season--during which she led the ACC in scoring averaging 19.7 points per game and led Duke to its first-ever end of the season No. 1 Associated Press ranking--Beard is disappointed with her team's Elite Eight loss. The Blue Devils ended their two-year streak of Final Four appearances with an 82-75 loss to the Golden Gophers.

"If I was here playing, it means that my team was here, but I am here by myself accepting these awards," Beard said. "If I was here with my teammates accepting these awards, it would be awesome. I am not going to take anything from this as it is an honor to have won these awards that I have won. But we all know I could not of accomplished any of this without my teammates."

After the presentation of the Wooden Award, Beard will await the 2004 WNBA Draft on April 17, in which the Phoenix Mercury have first pick.

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