UMass’ Sam Breen named Atlantic 10 Player of the Year

  • UMass’ Sam Breen was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year on Tuesday CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer 
Published: 3/1/2022 6:41:01 PM

All season, Sam Breen has been the heart of a UMass women’s basketball team that has made history on multiple different occasions. Those feats include breaking a program record with 23 regular-season wins, both Breen and teammate Destiney Philoxy scoring their 1,000th point in the same game, reaching the finals in the Gulf Coast Showcase, the first time a non-power five school had ever made the championship game, and taking a No. 13 Iowa State to the brink.

Breen made history again on Tuesday afternoon when she was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year, the first player in program history to earn the achievement.

“I definitely was not expecting that,” Breen said on winning the award. “It’s just surreal. Coming to UMass, that's really not anything that I ever expected to happen. Being on a team that's been doing so well, that just kind of caps it off.” 

Breen’s career statistics speak for themselves – she averaged 16.4 points a game and 10.5 rebounds a game, picking up 17 double-doubles over a 29-game schedule, tied for 14th best in the nation. Going into the A-10 tournament, she sits at 475 points on the year, second-best in the conference. This is Breen’s third All-Conference appearance; she was named to the Second Team as a junior and First Team as a senior before winning this honor as a graduate student.

“It just goes to show you the type of player that she is. I had hoped that this would happen,” UMass head coach Tory Verdi said on Breen’s honor. “She put the work in. It's well-deserved and there's something to be said about a player who comes to practice each and every single day and is consistent and works extremely hard. When you do that, you put yourself in a position to be successful.” 

In addition to the POTY distinction, Breen was also named to the All-Conference Academic team and the All-Conference First Team alongside Jenna Giacone (Dayton), Anna DeWolfe (Fordham), Kayla Spruill (La Salle), Emmanuelle Tahane (Rhode Island) and Taya Robinson (VCU). 

Breen wasn’t the only member of the Minutewomen who earned an award on Tuesday however. Sydney Taylor and Philoxy were both named to the All-Conference Second Team with Makira Cook (Dayton), Addie Budnik (Richmond), Asianae Johnson (St. Bonaventure) and Ciaja Harbison (Saint Louis). It was Taylor’s first selection to an All-Conference team and Philoxy’s second consecutive appearance on the Second Team. 

In addition to the Second Team nod, Philoxy was also named to the All-Defensive Team along with Brooke Flowers (St. Louis), Araion Bradshaw (Dayton), Kyla Whitehead (Dayton) and Robinson.

“It’s a great day for our program. Whenever you have anyone who's nominated for All-Conference, and the fact that we have three – two others and the Player of the Year – it was just a phenomenal day, season,” Verdi said. “I'm so proud of those that received the recognition that they so well deserved.”

UMass is the No. 3 seed in this week’s Atlantic 10 Tournament and will open play in the quarterfinal round on Friday at 7:30 p.m. against an opponent to be determined.

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