Anderson's Diaz Headlines SAC Women's Basketball HonoreesMarch 6, 2013
Brunelli Named Coach of the Year; Shannon Earns All-Conference Honors
ROCK HILL, S.C. – Anderson senior guard Alissa Diaz was named the South Atlantic Conference women’s basketball Player of the Year on Wednesday, headlining the announcement of the conference’s postseason award winners.
Diaz ranked second in the SAC in scoring at 16.8 points per game, leading AU to the program’s first SAC title since joining the conference. She was the league’s second-best free throw shooter at 85.3-percent and had the seventh-highest field goal percentage at 47.1-percent.
Diaz scored in double figures in all but two of Anderson’s games, including seven 20-point performances. She also averaged 2.8 assists per game, good for 12th in the conference.
“I am so proud of Alissa,” said Anderson head coach Jim Brunelli. “The honor could not have gone to a better person. She has a great work ethic and is a very humble and team-oriented player.”
Joining Diaz on the all-conference team was fellow senior Breonda Shannon, who led the Trojans and ranked eighth in the league with eight rebounds per game. She reached double figures in the scoring column on 11 occasions during the regular season and posted a team-high five double-doubles.
“Bre is a real blue-collar player,” added Brunelli. “She goes out and does the dirty work by rebounding and usually has to defend the other team’s best post player. That kind of effort usually doesn’t draw the limelight. We are really proud and pleased for her.”
After his team went from an eighth-place predicted finish in the SAC preseason poll to a regular-season conference championship, Anderson’s Jim Brunelli was named the conference’s Coach of the Year. He becomes the second AU basketball coach in as many years to win the award, as men’s head coach Jason Taylor was named Coach of the Year following last season.
“I am shocked,” said Brunelli. “I am very honored that the other coaches in the league would bestow the award. This is truly a team honor because you don’t get this award without a great team and great assistant coaching, as well. All of these honors are team awards.”
After finishing third in the SAC’s regular-season standings, Catawba had two players named to the All-SAC First Team in guard Chloe Bully and center Antionette McPhail. Bully tied for the league lead in assists at 4.3 per game and finished sixth in scoring average at 14.5, while McPhail was the conference’s third-leading rebounder at 8.4 per game and its 12th-leading scorer at 11.5 per contest.
Newberry also had two All-Conference First Team selections - forward Haylee Lepaio and wing Samantha Creed. Lepaio led the league in scoring at 18.5 points per game and ranked second in rebounding average at 8.8. Creed, meanwhile, finished third in scoring average at 15.3 and first in free throw shooting at 86.5-percent.
Lenoir-Rhyne guard Jazmine Charles completed the All-SAC First Team after averaging 11.5 points per game, good for 14th in the conference. She was also fifth in foul shooting at 77.8-percent.
Wingate was the only team with multiple selections to the All-Conference Second Team, as forward Chantal Dunbar and guard Janitsha Williams earned spots. They are joined on the team by Mars Hill forward Armeka Booker, Anderson forward Breonda Shannon, Tusculum guard Breaira Barksdale and Brevard guard Tuccoa Brackett.
Bracket was also named the SAC Freshman of the Year after finishing fourth in the conference in scoring at 15.2 points per game and fourth in blocked shots at 1.2 per game. Carson-Newman guard Tatum Burstrom, Wingate forward Morgan McGee, Mars Hill forward Kelsey Espinsoa and Lenoir-Rhyne guard Jordan Hiatt also earned All-Freshman Team honors.
The top-seeded Trojans play host to No. 8 seeded Lincoln Memorial tonight at 6 p.m. in a SAC Tournament quarterfinal matchup at the Abney Athletic Center.
2012-13 SAC Women’s Basketball Postseason Awards
All-SAC First Team
Alissa Diaz, Anderson (Sr.)*
Haylee Lepaio, Newberry (So.)*
Samantha Creed, Newberry (So.)
Jazmine Charles, Lenoir-Rhyne (So.)
Chloe Bully, Catawba (So.)
Antionette McPhail, Catawba (Jr.)
All-SAC Second Team
Chantal Dunbar, Wingate (Jr.)
Armeka Booker, Mars Hill (So.)
Breonda Shannon, Anderson (Sr.)
Breaira Barksdale, Tusculum (Sr.)
Janitsha Williams, Wingate (Jr.)
Tuccoa Brackett, Brevard (Fr.)
SAC All-Freshman Team
Tuccoa Brackett, Brevard
Tatum Burstrom, Carson-Newman
Morgan McGee, Wingate
Kelsey Espinosa, Mars Hill
Jordan Hiatt, Lenoir-Rhyne
* 2011-12 All-SAC Second Team selection