NEW YORK (AP) — Alana Beard of the Los Angeles Sparks has been named WNBA Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in her 12-year career.

The guard-forward was named on 28 ballots from a national panel of 40 sports writers and broadcasters in voting announced Tuesday. She joined two-time winner Lisa Leslie as the second Sparks player to earn the honor. Leslie won in 2004 and '08.

Beard led the league in steals for the first time, averaging 2.09 while starting all 34 regular-season games for the defending league champions. She averaged 6.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists this season, while shooting a career-high 50 percent from the field.

Sylvia Fowles of the Minnesota Lynx, a three-time winner, finished second with five votes. Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury, a two-time winner, was third with four votes. Beard's teammate, Candace Parker, earned two votes. Alyssa Thomas of the Connecticut Sun received one vote.

Beard will receive $5,000 and a Tiffany trophy.

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