FAIRFIELD, CONN. (March 4, 2016)—The Sacred Heart women's basketball team won three major annual Northeast Conference Awards as announced by the league Friday morning via Twitter.
Hannah Kimmel (Harpursville, N.Y.) became the fourth Pioneer to earn the coveted Player of the Year Award and landed a spot on the All-NEC First Team for the second time in her career, while third-year Head Coach Jessica Mannetti, who led SHU to the Regular Season Title this season, clinched her first Brenda Reilly Coach of the Year Award. Alissa Tarsi (Clinton, N.J.) has made a splash throughout her senior campaign to become the first ever recipient of the NEC Most Improved Player of the Year Award, along with All-NEC Second Team honors.
Kimmel has been the driving force behind Sacred Heart's offense throughout the season, leading the team in scoring in 17 games. She closed out the regular season on an 18-game streak of reaching double-digit points, and did so in all but three games this season. Her 17.1 points per game paces the Pioneers and ranks fourth in the league. Her all-around game helped her to record nine double-doubles this season as the Harpursville native cleaned up on the boards as well. As one of the squad's top two rebounders, Kimmel averaged 7.7 per game and has topped the NEC throughout the season in defensive boards averaging 6.69 per game at the close of the regular season.
A highlight of her stellar season came on January 16 when she became the 19th Pioneer in program history to eclipse 1,000 career points with her first basket against St. Francis Brooklyn. Since then she has continued to move up the program's all-time scorers list and currently ranks 11th with 1,255 career points. The 2016 Player of the Year ended the season getting three of the last four Choice Hotels NEC Player of the Week honors.
2016 marks Kimmel's third All-NEC nod as the redshirt-junior was named to the All-Rookie team in 2014, her first year on the court after being sidelined by two knee injuries, and to the All-NEC First Team last season.
Tarsi certainly saved the best for last. A leader on the court for the Pioneers, the senior was consistently in SHU's top two in both points and rebounds. Getting the start in all but one game, Finishing the year averaging 8.2 rebounds per game, after grabbing just 2.9 per contest last year, she led the team and ranked fourth in the league. Throughout her junior campaign, she accounted for just 5.3 points per game, but this year Tarsi lit up the scoreboard with 11.8 points per game, including a personal best 23 points against Central Connecticut on February 13. Following that weekend, where she averaged 18.5 points and 16.2 rebounds against the Blue Devils and Robert Morris, the senior earned her first Choice Hotels NEC Player of the Week nod. Shooting 53.8% from the floor, the Garden State native topped the NEC in field goal percentage throughout the season.
Mannetti led the Pioneers to a 16-2 record against NEC foes to clinch the Regular Season Championship, and will lead the Pioneers in their hunt for the program's fourth Northeast Conference crown beginning this Sunday, March 6. Top seeded Sacred Heart will host No. 8 Mount St. Mary's, who SHU swept during the regular season, for a 1:05 p.m. tipoff.