Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Sam Breen earns second consecutive Atlantic 10 player of the year award

Breen leads league in double-doubles and rebounds, third in points per game
Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian

In a week where Sam Breen collected all-time records like Thanos collected the infinity stones, she can add another honor to her gauntlet. It was announced on Tuesday that Breen had been named the Atlantic 10 player of the year, the second consecutive season that she has earned this honor. Breen is the first player to record consecutive A-10 player of the year seasons since Saint Louis’ Jackie Kemph accomplished the same in ‘2015-16 and 2016-17. 

Breen is top 10 or top 15 in almost every stat imaginable, while also leading the A-10 in double-doubles with 16, rebounds per game with 10 and finished third in points per game with 17.9 (finishing behind Fordham’s elite one-two punch of Asiah Dingle and Anna DeWolfe). Breen started her campaign for the top player in the conference early, dropping both a season and tying a career high 31 points in the Massachusetts women’s basketball team’s season opener against Central Connecticut State University.

“[Breen’s] consistency, in every game I knew what we were going to get from her,” head coach Tory Verdi said. “She’s multifaceted, we all know what she can do scoring wise. I’ll couple that with her leadership … a pleasure to coach.”

Breen wasn’t just scoring on a high attempt of shots and poor efficiency; when she shot the basketball this season, she shot it with a purpose. Breen finished 11th in field goal percentage on the season despite attempting 70 more shots than anyone else in the top 15. Known predominantly as a post-player, Breen expanded her range and finished within the top 20 of 3-point percentage shooting it at a 35.3 percent clip from distance. She also finished sixth in free throw percentage.

Breen has an ability to put up the quietest 20 and 10 performance on a consistent basis, which is reflected in her double-double total of 16. She was only one of five players across the whole A-10 to have 10-plus double-doubles, while also being one of three players to record a triple double this season, as she accomplished this feat along with Brooke Flowers of Saint Louis and Megan McConnell of Duquesne.

It wasn’t just traditional stats that Breen led the league in, as she played the most minutes out of anyone in the conference this season and finished her regular season campaign with 9.3 win shares, slightly better than her 2021-2022 performance of 9.2 win shares, which included the postseason.

Breen wasn’t the only Minutewomen who was bestowed awards, as she was joined by Sydney Taylor on the all-conference first team. Ber’Nyah Mayo was given all-conference second team honors, while Destiney Philoxy found her spot on the all-defensive team.

“There’s a reason that [Breen] is receiving these awards and to me, they’re like team awards,” Verdi said. “It’s about the team … individual awards are nice. It means people respect the quality of work that [UMass] has put in.”

Breen’s award season isn’t over yet; she remains a semi-finalist for the Becky Hammond Mid-Major player of the year award. The ultimate prize for Breen however, along with the rest of the Minutewomen, remains capturing the A-10 championship. Entering the season as unanimous picks to win the A-10 and now entering the tournament as the No.1 seed, Breen and her team know the path that awaits them.

“The season was hard because of the length … the travel, you’re supposed to win these games on the road,” Verdi said. “[In the tournament] you have one bad night, you’re going home. You’re done.”

With its double bye, UMass won’t be in action until Friday, March 3, where it will take on the winner of the game between La Salle and George Mason which takes place on Thursday. Tipoff on Friday is scheduled for 11 a.m.

Johnny Depin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @JDepin101.

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