Alex Hall's NH College Notebook: Hudson's Purcell takes her shot for Owls
SANDI PURCELL's family has a knack for making history in Division III women's college basketball. Her older sisters, Deanna and Amandra, had record-breaking careers at Rivier University. Purcell is trying to add her own milestone to her family's list of accomplishments by helping Keene State earn its first Little East Conference championship this season.
The Owls entered their Saturday bout against the University of Southern Maine third in the conference standings behind Eastern Connecticut State and Western Connecticut State. Keene State was 17-3 overall and 6-3 in LEC play entering Saturday.
Purcell, a sophomore guard from Hudson, said the key to the Owls' success so far has been their team chemistry and having multiple scoring threats.
“We don't have one player that needs to have a huge game every game,” Purcell said. “Every game, somebody else is stepping up being huge.”
All but one of the Owls' first 17 victories were by double-digit margins. Two of the team's three losses entering Saturday were by four points or fewer.
“I think we've won by good margins because when we're up by single digits, we know it's never over,” Purcell said. “Every game we've played, we're playing to the final buzzer.”
Keene State hasn't had to win many close games because the team has proven to be deadly efficient from beyond the arc. The Owls' 32.9 three-point percentage entering Saturday was the best in the LEC. Purcell is one of the team's best three-point shooters — her 34.1 percent mark entering Saturday was 10th-best in the conference — but she's not afraid to drive into the paint, either.
“When I came to college my freshman year, I was a bit intimidated to be honest,” Purcell said. “The players were bigger in the post and it's not easy to drive when you're 5-foot-3 going against a 6-footer. I knew I needed to be an outside player in college but this year, I realized I can't be afraid of those 6-footers.”
Purcell, who scored more than 1,000 points at Alvirne of Hudson, averaged 8.2 points and 1.9 rebounds per game her freshman season. She was averaging 13.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game this year entering Saturday.
When Purcell feels like something is off with her game, she has a few notable basketball minds she can pick. Deanna wrapped up her career at Rivier last season as the program's all-time leading scorer with more than 2,000 points. Amandra, who graduated in 2012, is fourth on the Raiders' all-time scoring list with 1,093 points. She holds the program record for best career three-point percentage with a mark of 36.5.
“I call Amandra after every game and we talk about it,” said Purcell. “She'll watch online and tell me everything I did wrong and what I need to do. They're my No. 1 fans but also my No. 1 critics, which is a good balance to have.”
Purcell doesn't feel pressure to live up to Amandra or Deanna's achievements. Instead, Purcell is motivated by what her sisters accomplished and right now, she's channeling that to help bring Keene State its first LEC title.
The Owls' have four games remaining before the postseason. Two of those games are against Eastern Connecticut and Western Connecticut. Purcell said it's difficult not look ahead to those crucial contests and the conference playoffs.
“It's hard not to look past that and how we want to win the LEC championship so bad and host the playoffs here,” Purcell said. “We just want to beat everyone the rest of the way.”
Bentley University senior guard Jane White matched her season highs in both points and steals in the team's 60-56 victory over Southern Connecticut State University Jan. 30. The second-year captain from Amherst logged 11 points and three steals in the Falcons' triumph.
The Keene State 200 medley relay team consisting of Brianna Laliberte, of Candia, Amber Long, of Dover, Alison Bartlett, of Stratham, and Corrina Nickerson was named the LEC relay team of the week this past week. The team won the 200 medley relay at the LEC Championships Jan. 30 with a time of 1 minute, 49.79 seconds.
St. Michael's College senior Brianna McKinley was named to the Northeast-10 Conference Academic All-Conference Team. To be eligible, a student-athlete must have participated in at least half of the team's competitions, earned a 3.3 cumulative GPA and completed at least one year at their current school.
McKinley, a team captain from Moultonborough, finished each of her four 5-kilometer races this past season in times of 22 minutes, 37 seconds or better.
St. Michael's College senior Megan Deschaine was selected to the NE-10 Academic All-Conference Team. Deschaine, of Claremont, matched her career best in points last season with 15.
Mt. Ida College sophomore Christopher Medeiros was named to the Eastern College Football Conference All-Academic Team. A student-athlete must participate in a sport for at least two years and have a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher to be considered.
Medeiros, a linebacker from Pelham, recorded 11 tackles and recovered a fumble over nine games for the Mustangs this season.
NHTI had 32 student-athletes named to the 2015 Yankee Small College Conference Fall All-Academic Team. To be considered for the honor, they must have at least achieved a 3.2 GPA for the fall semester.
The NHTI student-athletes from New Hampshire who made the all-academic team are baseball players Christopher Gauss, of Pembroke, and Brandon Rees, of Hooksett, cross-country runners Claire Bilik, of Milford, Raquel Gelinas, of Penacook, Julia Glisson, of Merrimack, Ruby Jones, of Alton, Ryleigh Lorimer, of Peterborough, Timothy Kneuer, of Laconia, Branden McCoo, of Pembroke, Cody Roberge, of Hopkinton, and Kyle Sims, of Franklin, soccer players Kyle Haas, of Allenstown, Cristopher Ketcham, of Bow, Emily Blad, of Northwood, Alexis Duclos, of Epsom, Marissa Fortier, of Rochester, Stefani Gauther, of Pittsfield, Shannon Hart, of Swanzey, and Danielle Wiley, of Penacook, softball players Natalie Baker, of Sutton, Emma Gagnon, of Pembroke, Yanna Hendrickson, of Troy, Tori Lemay, of Manchester, Danyel McNicholas, of Raymond, and Hanna Seidner of Pembroke, Kayla Barnes, of Wilton, Jessie Begeron, of Canterbury, Terri Folsom, of Meredith, Allyson Lively, of Moultonborough, and Cheyanne Sauvola, of New Ipswich.
The University of New Hampshire will add six new members to its athletic hall of fame this summer. Alpine skier Veronique Archambault-Leger, volleyball player Aly Quinn, track and field thrower Ed McCabe, cross-country runner Cathy Parker, football player Ricky Santos and the 1997-98 women's hockey team will all be inducted on June 11.
Archambault-Leger, a 2010 graduate, was a five-time All-American and 2007 EISA Rookie of the Year.
Quinn, a 2004 graduate, owns the school record for career kills (1,814) and attack attempts (4,726). She graduated as the career leader in digs (1,231) and is currently fourth on the all-time list.
McCabe, a 1987 graduate from Nashua, earned 16 first-place finishes over his career.
A 2008 graduate, Parker was the first UNH athlete to qualify for the NCAA Championships in both cross-country and track and field. She is still the only Wildcat to qualify for the NCAA Championships in cross-country twice.
Santos, a 2008 graduate and former quarterback, won the 2006 Walter Payton Award and was a five-time All-America Team selection. In 2004, he won the ECAC and Atlantic-10 rookie of the year awards. He ranks third in Division I FCS history with 13,212 passing yards and 123 touchdown passes. Santos still holds 16 school records.
The 1997-98 women's hockey team featured the inaugural Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award recipient in Brandy Fisher and two All-America selections in Fisher and Nicki Luongo. Both players went on to compete for the United States Women's National Ice Hockey Team.
Alex Hall compiles the college notebook for the New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AlexKHall.