Jaci Daigneault, Sarah Leyman Earn All-NESCAC Honors

Jaci Daigneault '11
AMHERST, MA – The NESCAC announced today the members of its 2009 Women's Basketball All-Conference Team, with Amherst College sophomores Jaci Daigneault (Guilford, CT) and Sarah Leyman (Cincinnati, OH) representing the Lord Jeffs as two of this year’s honorees. While Daigneault earned a spot on the First Team, Leyman grabbed Second Team honors.

After averaging 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a first-year, Daigneault burst onto the NESCAC scene this year by more than doubling those averages to 12.8 points and 7.5 boards per contest, all while averaging only 22.4 minutes. In addition to boasting the conference’s fourth highest rebounding average and seventh highest scoring average, Daigneault is shooting 54.4 percent from the floor, the second best field goal percentage in the NESCAC.

Daigneault has been a double-double machine in the second half of the season. After recording only one double-double in Amherst’s first 16 games, she has posted seven in the past 11 contests, including a stretch of five straight from Jan. 31 to Feb. 14. Daigneault has twice scored a career-high 23 points this season and has pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds on two other occasions.

With 504 career points and 293 rebounds heading into the NCAA Tournament, Daigneault has put herself on pace to become one the program’s most decorated players. On a similar pace is Leyman, who has racked up 549 points and 346 rebounds in her first two years. After leading the NESCAC in field goal percentage as a first-year (.570), Leyman is currently third in the conference in field goal percentage (.514), 16th in rebounding (6.0 rpg) and 19th in scoring (10.4 ppg).

Sarah Leyman '11

In Amherst’s past eight games, Leyman and Daigneault have each led the team in scoring four times, while they have combined to lead the Jeffs in rebounding in 13 of the past 14 games. During a convincing win over Williams earlier this season, the sophomore tandem combined for 42 points and 18 rebounds while shooting 19-for-33 (.576) from the floor.

With Amherst beginning NCAA Tournament play this Friday, the Jeffs will surely look to Leyman and Daigneault to continue their hot streaks. In Amherst’s three national tournament games last year, Daigneault averaged 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, with Leyman posting similar numbers to average 7.0 points and 6.0 boards.

Amherst will host Babson College on Friday, Mar. 6 at 6 p.m. after Emmanuel and Southern Maine square off at 4 p.m. in the other first-round game. Friday’s winners will play Saturday, Mar. 7 at 5 p.m. with a trip to the Round of 16 on the line.

Joining Daigneault on the All-NESCAC First Team are Ali Fourney of Wesleyan University, Colleen Hart of Tufts, Maria Noucas of Bowdoin, and Val Beckwith of Bates. Beckwith was also named the conference’s Player of the Year.

Also earning Second Team honors are Claire Arnstein (Trinity), Jill Henrikson (Bowdoin), Julia Baily (Tufts) and Lucy Sprung (Wesleyan). Henrikson was named Rookie of the Year as the lone first-year to earn All-Conference honors, while Kim Moynihan of Tufts was tabbed the Defensive Player of the Year. Rounding out the individual award winners is Adrienne Shibles, who was voted Coach of the Year for leading the Polar Bears to a NESCAC title in her first year with the team.

2009 NESCAC Women’s Basketball All-Conference Team
First Team
G – Ali Fourney – Sr. (Wesleyan)
G – Colleen Hart – So. (Tufts)
G – Maria Noucas – Sr. (Bowdoin)
F – Val Beckwith – Sr. (Bates)
F – Jaci Daigneault – So. (Amherst)

Second Team
G – Claire Arnstein – Jr. (Trinity)
G – Jill Henrikson – Fy. (Bowdoin)
C – Sarah Leyman – So. (Amherst)
F – Julia Baily – Jr. (Tufts)
F – Lucy Sprung – Gr. (Wesleyan)

Player of the Year: Val Beckwith (Bates)
Rookie of the Year: Jill Henrikson (Bowdoin)
Defensive Player of the Year: Kim Moynihan (Tufts)
Coach of the Year: Adrienne Shibles (Bowdoin)