Date Posted:02/28/2007, 4:30PM
BRUNSWICK, Maine - Bowdoin College senior forward Eileen Flaherty (Fairfield, Conn.) has been honored as the New England Small College Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Year, heading a trio of Polar Bears recognized in postseason awards on Wednesday. The Polar Bears (26-1) are ranked first in the latest Division III National Poll and will host an NCAA Regional this Friday and Saturday at Morrell Gymnasium.
Flaherty, who also collected First-Team All-NESCAC honors, was joined by sophomore Jill Anelauskas (Medfield, Mass.) as a first-team choice. Meanwhile, senior guard Katie Cummings (Summit, N.J.) was highlighted as the Co-Defensive Player of the Year for the conference.
Flaherty is the second Polar Bear to earn the NESCAC's top honor, joining Lora Trenkle '04, who collected the honor twice. The leading scorer in the conference this season (18.1 ppg), she is the first player in NESCAC history to be named to the First-Team all four seasons. Also Bowdoin's leading rebounder (6.1 rpg), Flaherty has been a starter since early in her freshman season, and became the first basketball player in school history to eclipse 1,700 points (1,780 entering NCAA Tournament play). The program's all-time leading scorer has led the Polar Bears in points in 22 of the team's 27 games this year.
"Player of the Year is a big deal," says head coach Stefanie Pemper. "The NESCAC is one of the top conferences in the country, year in and year out, and for Eileen to be the best of the best is a huge compliment. What makes Eileen special is her consistent confidence, her boldness, her team-first attitude and work ethic, and her sportsmanship. She is humble and she is coachable and as a result she has improved her game and continued to be among the best players in New England for four years."
Anelauskas joins Flaherty as a First-Team choice, earning her first-ever NESCAC honor. The sophomore forward is second on Bowdoin in points (11.6) and rebounds (6.0) while leading the team in field goal percentage (.462). She notched a season-high 24 points on two occasions this season.
"I'm so happy for Jill," says Pemper. "People have no idea how hard she's worked to evolve her game in two years. She was challenged this year to contribute more to our team defense and she has, and she was expected to pick up where she left off last year as a scorer--only with more attention from opposing defenses--and she has."
Senior guard Katie Cummings was recognized as the Co-Defensive Player of the Year in the conference after leading the league with 68 steals. She paced a Polar Bear defense that ranked first in the NESCAC and stands second nationally in scoring defense (46.3). She leads the team in charges taken this year, and her 168 career steals stand ninth all-time at Bowdoin.
"Katie is certainly one of the most 'influential' players in the league," according to Pemper. "NESCAC opponents have awarded her for her defense, and she is very deserving. She has also been one to hit a big shot or free throw, to make a great pass, and to be the heart and the brains of the operation, too. I'm thrilled she was recognized."
The Polar Bears will face Mount Holyoke College at 7:00 p.m. on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.