PAWTUCKET, R.I. – The Little East Conference has announced the 2016-17 women's basketball major awards and all-conference selections, as voted on by the LEC head coaches. Headlining the LEC All-Conference selections is this season's 2017 Little East Conference Player of the Year, UMass Dartmouth's Nakira Examond (New Bedford, Mass.).
The Corsairs' sophomore Examond paced UMass Dartmouth this season as she finished the season leading all scorers with 16.1 points per game with a league best 63.6 field goal percentage and lead the LEC with 10.6 rebound per game. Examond finished the season as the only Little East Conference student-athlete to average a double-double in 2016-17. Examond led the Corsairs to a program record 22-5 (11-3 LEC) overall record as UMass Dartmouth earned the program's first-ever NCAA Division III postseason berth with an At-Large bid.
Keene State's Stephanie D'Annolfo (Tyngsborough, Mass.) was named the 2017 Little East Conference Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. D'Annolfo placed inside the top-10 for a majority of the main statistical categories, including fifth in steals (40) and sixth in blocks (22) and guided the Owls to the LEC's best scoring defense, allowing 57.2 points per game. D'Annolfo placed seventh in the LEC in scoring by averaging 12.3 points per game and sixth in the LEC with 7.7 rebounds and third in the Little East with 3.7 assists per game. D'Annolfo was named the LEC Player of the Week on January 30 after she averaged 15.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists on the week. D'Annolfo was named the LEC Tournament Most Outstanding Player after leading the Owls to the program's first-ever Little East Conference Championship and a berth to the NCAA postseason.
Warriors Mya Villard (Cromwell, Conn.) was named the 2017 Little East Conference Rookie of the Year following a tremendous freshman campaign. Villard garnered Little East Rookie of the Week honors six times in 2016-17. Villard averaged 9.4 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game for the LEC Regular Season Champion Warriors. The Warriors fell to Keene State in the LEC championship game in which Villard tossed in a career-high 20 points (8-of-10 FG, 4-of-4 FT) in 24 minutes of play.
Plymouth State's second year head coach Allison Flynn was named the 2017 Little East Conference Coach of the Year. Flynn's Panthers team finished with an 8-17 (5-9 LEC) overall record and finished the year strong, winning two of the final three games to finish with the fifth-seed in the Little East Conference Tournament. A graduate of Norwich University, Flynn previously spent four years as an assistant women's basketball coach at Saint Anselm College from 2009-2013. This is the first time the Panthers have won the LEC Coach of the Year award since 1995.
The 2017 Little East All-Conference First-Team selections consists of the Player of the Year and five additional individuals that have exceled this season. Joining UMD's Examond are Keene State's D'Annolfo and Sandi Purcell (Hudson, N.H.), Rhode Island College's Alex Moore (West Newbury, Mass.), and Eastern Connecticut State's Jordyn Nappi (Southington, Conn.) and Lexis Foster (Groton, Conn.). Moore finished her senior season with 15.5 points per game to lead the Anchorwomen. ECSU's Nappi finished third in LEC scoring with 14.9 points per game and teammate Foster led the LEC with 115 blocks (4.1 per game). Purcell finished the season strong, surpassing double-figures in five of the final six games, including back-to-back career-highs with 27 points on February 15 and 30 points (8-for14 3PT) on February 18.
The All-Little East Second Team is made up of a pair of Western Connecticut Colonials with Kaitlyn LaBonte (South Windsor, Conn.) and Emily Dobson (Westerly, R.I.). Dobson averaged 10.2 points per game and shot 44.1 percent from the floor, while LaBonte averaged 11.4 points per game for the Colonials. Plymouth State's De'Asia Lawrence (Middletown, Conn.) also collected All-LEC Second Team honors and finished sixth in scoring with 12.8 points per game. UMass Dartmouth's Alicia Kutil (Franklin, Mass.) earned All-LEC Second Team selection following a strong offensive season, averaging 13.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. UMass Boston's leading scoring, Raven Kelsey (Boston, Mass.) averaged 10.9 points per game as she rounds out the 2017 All-LEC Second Team selections.
The Little East All-Defensive Team is led by the DPOY, D'Annolfo from Keene State. Joining D'Annolfo is teammate Lydia Vital (Cambridge, Mass.). Vital tallied 39 steals and grabbed 73 rebounds this season. Eastern Connecticut's defensive stopper, Lexis Foster garners All-LEC Defensive Team honors after she led the LEC in blocks per game (4.1 per game). Warriors Julia DePoi (Brookfield, Conn.) joins Foster on the All-LEC Defensive Team after recording 46 steals and 25 blocks on the year for the regular season champions. Rounding out the All-LEC Defensive Team is Western Connecticut's Tashai Price (Vernon, Conn.).
The Little East Conference All-Rookie Team is led by the ROY, Villard. Villard led all rookies in scoring with 9.4 points per game. Joining Villard on the All-LEC Rookie Team is Western Connecticut's Gabrielle Hurlbert (Thomaston, Conn.), Keene State's Kenzie Bennett (Lake George, N.Y.), Southern Maine's Chantel Eells (Turner, ME) and Rhode Island College's Jordyn Gauvin (Fall Fiver, Mass.). Hurlbert averaged 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds for the Colonials. Gauvin averaged 7.8 points and 5.0 rebounds for RIC, including a career-high 17 points against UMass Boston. Eells averaged 6.8 points and 5.3 rebounds and reached double-figure scoring five times, including a career-high 13 points in a thrilling 61-60 win over Southern Maine. Bennett started 17 of the 26 games for the 2017 LEC champion Owls.
The historic competitive success the LEC has achieved throughout the 30 years, beginning as a basketball only conference in 1986 and expanding into today's 19-Championship Sport Conference, will continue to make academic and athletic strides as the LEC continues to be the premier Division III conference of the New England region.
The Little East Conference was formed in 1986 when six public institutions gathered to create a single sport athletic conference and has expanded into what is now New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. The LEC features 19 Championship Sports and sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes while following the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship and citizenship.
2017 Little East Conference Women's Basketball
Major Award Winners
Player of the Year - Nakira Examond - UMass Dartmouth
Defensive Player of the Year - Stephanie D'Annolfo - Keene State
Rookie of the Year - Mya Villard - Eastern Connecticut State
Coach of the Year - Allison Flynn - Plymouth State
All Conference – First Team
Nakira Examond - UMass Dartmouth
Stephanie D'Annolfo - Keene State
Alex Moore - Rhode Island College
Jordyn Nappi - Eastern Connecticut State
Sandi Purcell - Keene State
Lexis Foster - Eastern Connecticut State
All Conference – Second Team
De'Asia Lawrence - Plymouth State
Kaitlyn LaBonte - Western Connecticut State
Emily Dobson - Western Connecticut State
Alicia Kutil - UMass Dartmouth
Raven Kelsey - UMass Boston
Stephanie D'Annolfo - Keene State
Lexis Foster - Eastern Connecticut State
Julia DePoi - Eastern Connecticut State
Lydia Vital - Keene State
Tashai Price - Western Connecticut State
Mya Villard - Eastern Connecticut State
Gabrielle Hurlbert - Western Connecticut State
Kenzie Bennett - Keene State
Chantel Eells - Southern Maine
Jordyn Gauvin - Rhode Island College