Bryant University freshman Meredith Soper (Winthrop, Mass.) and senior Kelsey O’Keefe (Warren, Mass.) have earned the first-ever postseason Northeast Conference honors in women’s basketball history. O’Keefe, a Bulldog tri-captain, capped her record-breaking career with a First Team All-NEC honor while Soper topped-off her rookie campaign with a NEC All-Rookie Team selection. Both teams were voted on by league coaches and announced by conference officials at Friday night’s women’s basketball awards banquet.
O’Keefe and Soper wrapped-up a memorable 2009-10 season as they guided the Bulldogs to a sixth-place finish in their first campaign with a full NEC schedule. Bryant, ineligible for postseason play due to NCAA DI transition rules, was 13-16 overall and recorded a 10-8 mark in conference play. The Black and Gold won 10 of its last 16 games and defeated teams such as Monmouth, Quinnipiac, Yale, Central Connecticut and Saint Francis (PA) during that stretch.
Soper, a newcomer to the Bulldogs in 2009-10, did not start a game until 11 games into the season. She proceeded to start the next 16 straight games and help guide the Bulldogs to a 10-6 record while she was in the starting five. The Boston native appeared in 27-of-29 games and finished her rookie campaign ranked fifth on the team in points per game with an even six. She also finished the year ranked fourth in rebounding, averaging 3.9 per game. The 5-11 guard averaged 7.3 ppg and 4.4 rpg in Northeast Conference games. She averaged 35.4 percent from the field and recorded 29 steals. Soper had a career-high 18 points against St. Francis (PA) going 8-13 from the floor and pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds against Monmouth.
Joining O’Keefe on the First Team All-NEC squad is player of the year Angela Pace (Robert Morris), Alisa Apo (Sacred Heart), Ashley Palmer (Long Island) and Britney Hodges (Saint Francis (PA)). Pace was also voted as the conference’s defensive player of the year.
Soper was accompanied by Rookie of the Year Alysha Womack (Monmouth), Kiley Evans (Sacred Heart), Vega Gimeno-Martinez (Robert Morris) and Autum Lau (St. Francis (NY)).
O’Keefe finished the year ranked fifth in the conference in scoring, averaging 15.6 points per game (ppg). In conference games only she averaged 16.9 ppg, good enough for third in the league. One of the most exciting players to watch on the hardwood, she had the three highest scoring games in the NEC this season with 34 against Quinnipiac and 33 against both Monmouth and Robert Morris. O’Keefe had three of the five 30-point outings in the league this season. She registered four double-doubles and eight 20-point performances. As a forward she led the conference in free throw shooting, finishing the year at 87 percent.
The All-Decade player led her team in nearly every statistical category: points (15.6 pg), rebounds (6.3 pg), field goal percentage (44.8), field goals made (147) and 3-point field goals made (45). Arguably the best player in program history, O’Keefe closes out an amazing four years ranked third in points scored with 1,797 and fourth in rebounds with 838.
Robert Morris’ Coach Sal Buscaglia was named NEC Coach of the Year.