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Cimino named AEast Coach of the Year, James Defensive Player

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VESTAL, N.Y. – Second-year head coach Linda Cimino has been named the America East Women's Basketball Coach of the Year and sophomore forward Alyssa James has been chosen as the conference's Defensive Player of the Year. The announcements were made at the conference's annual awards banquet, which was held Friday evening at the Events Center.

Cimino and James, who was also named third-team all-conference, were far from the only Binghamton personnel to collect awards. Sophomore guard Imani Watkins was named second-team all-conference. Senior Kim Albrecht joined James on the third team and was also selected to the America East's All-Academic Team. Freshman guard Rebecca Carmody, meanwhile, was named to the conference's All-Rookie Team.

After being picked to finish ninth (last) in the America East's preseason poll, Cimino and the Bearcats tied for third in the conference. Although the Bearcats earned the No. 5 seed for the upcoming America East Tournament based on the tiebreaker with Stony Brook and UMBC, it still represents their highest seed since 2011.

Cimino, who arrived at Binghamton in April 2014 after a successful eight-year run as the head coach at Caldwell University, has already led the squad to its most victories (13) since 2011-12. In the process, the Bearcats have more than tripled last year's four-win total and recorded twice as many conference wins (eight) as they did in the previous two seasons combined.

James, who sat out the 2014-15 season after transferring from Caldwell University, ranked first in the conference and No. 15 in the NCAA with 2.97 blocks per game during the regular season. She also was seventh in the America East with 14.9 points per game, fourth in rebounding (7.8 rpg.) and No. 10 in steals (1.6 spg). James compiled a team-best eight double-doubles this season and broke the school and America East records with nine blocks at Xavier on Nov. 28.

James is the first Binghamton player to be named the America East Defensive Player of the Year. She is also the first Bearcat to land on the conference's All-Defensive Team since Jasbrielle Swain in 2013.

Watkins, who was named to the All-Rookie Team last year, ranked fifth in the America East in both scoring (16.1 ppg.) and assists (3.7 apg.). She was also fourth in steals (2.4 spg.) and free throw percentage (.803). Watkins has reached the 20-point mark in scoring a team-best 12 times this year, including a 30-point performance against UMBC on Feb. 24. In addition, she recorded the program's first triple-double since 1992 when she finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Nyack on Dec. 15.

Albrecht makes her first appearance on an all-conference team. She ranked No. 13 in the America East with 11.9 points per game and was first in both the America East and the NCAA with a .918 free throw percentage (78-of-85). In addition, Albrecht also ranked second in the conference in three-point field goals percentage (.414) and three-point field goals per game (2.2).

This marks the first year since 2004 that Binghamton has had three players named all-conference. Rachel Laws was named to the first team that season while Kate Townley and Leala Wegwerth were on the third team.

Albrecht is the first Binghamton player to be named to the America East All-Academic Team since Viive Rebane was chosen in both 2011 and 2012. In order to be eligible for the All-Academic Team, a student-athlete must have at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA and be either a starter or important reserve.

Carmody is the third Binghamton player in the past two years to earn All-Rookie honors. She joins Watkins and last season's Rookie of the Year Jasmine Sina. Carmody, who was named the America East Rookie of the Week on Nov. 16 and Jan. 18, averaged 8.2 points per game, ranked ninth in the America East with 1.7 steals per game, was No. 10 with 6.3 rebounds per game and finished No. 14 with 2.1 assists per game.

For the second year in a row, Binghamton (13-16, 8-8 AE) is the host school for the America East Women's Basketball Tournament. The Bearcats face No. 4 UMBC in a quarterfinal match at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday night at Dr. Bai Lee Court at the Events Center.

NOTE: This marks the first year that Binghamton has had two major award winners at the America East All-Conference Banquet. In addition to Sina, Swain was named the Rookie of the Year in 2011 and Andrea Holmes was selected in 2009. Sarah Cartmill was the Player of the Year in 2002 and Conover was the voted the top coach two years later.

(Courtesy: BU Athletics)