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Cindy Griffin Named Big 5 Coach of the Year; Four Hawks Earn All-Big 5 Honors

For the second time, Saint Joseph's women's basketball head coach Cindy Griffin was named as the Big 5 Coach of the Year. Four Hawks also were named to the All-Big 5 team as organization officials announced awards on Tuesday afternoon.

Saint Joseph's coach Cindy Griffin standing on basketball court with audience behind on bleachers Photo Credit: Sideline Photos, LLC

Published: May 1, 2024

Total reading time: 3 minutes

Griffin, who last earned end of year accolades in 2013, led her squad to a program-record 28 wins on the season. The Hawks advanced to the quarterfinals to the inaugural WBIT, including wins over Seton Hall and a road win against California, the first road win over a Pac-12 school in program history. The Hawks went 11-1 in the non-conference campaign, the best mark in Griffin's 26 years as a head coach. St. Joe's also tied for the most road wins in country, finishing with a 15-2 record away from home. The Hawks finished tied for second in the Atlantic 10, while going undefeated in Big 5 play to secure the first city crown since the 2014-15 season. 
Talya Brugler added her second consecutive First Team All-Big 5 honor, adding to her season accolades. A starter in all 34 games for the Hawks, Brugler led the team with 15.6 points per game. The Nazareth, Pa. native earned Second Team All-Atlantic 10 accolades, scoring in double digits in all but four games this season, including a season-high 30 points in the win over UMass. Brugler shot 54.1 percent from the field while leading the team in assists (85) and minutes per game (33.4). Brugler became the 29th Hawk to reach 1,000 points, the junior ending her season ranked 10th all-time in scoring in program history. Also earning Ann Meyers Drysdale Player of the Year Watch List this season, Brugler averaged 15.5 points on 57.5 percent from the field with 14 assists against Big 5 opposition. Shooting 86.7 percent from the charity stripe, Brugler was also named the Top Free Throw Shooter in the Big 5.
Laura Ziegler was the second Hawk to receive First Team honors, adding to her First Team All-Atlantic 10 accolades. Ziegler proved dominant against Big 5 foes, averaging 17.8 points and 13.5 rebounds per game along with nine assists and six steals. Ziegler has received Big 5 accolades in both of her seasons on Hawk Hill, the sophomore also being named to the Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team this season. On the season, the Danish forward tallied 14.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, finishing second on the team with 84 assists with a team-high 27 blocks. Her 7.8 defensive rebounds per game ranked among the top 15 in the country, Ziegler finishing with 13 double-doubles on the season. Ziegler joined Brugler on the Ann Meyers Drysdale Player of the Year Watch List, collecting her 500th career rebound to become the 24th Hawk to do so.
Mackenzie Smith received Second Team All-Big 5 honors for the second consecutive season, averaging 12.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game on the season. Smith led the team with 45 steals on the year, while shooting a staggering 41.7 percent from the three-point line. Smith tallied double figures in 15 of her 18 conference games, while posting 20+ points on six separate occasions. The Canadian guard became the 30th Hawk to reach 1,000 career points, earning a spot on the All-Atlantic 10 Second Team. Smith averaged 12.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in the Big 5, shooting 46.7 percent from three in that span. Smith's 21 points against Villanova helped break a seven-game losing streak to the Hawks, the Hawks securing their first outright Big 5 title since 2013-14.
In her lone year on Hawk Hill, Chloe Welch earned All-Big 5 Honorable Mention as she started all 34 games on the year. Welch was the fourth Hawk to average double-digits with 10.7 points per game, adding 4.9 rebounds per contest. Welch proved vital in the postseason, averaging 12.3 points in the WBIT with a tournament-best 19 points in the road win at Cal. The Colorado native notched 9.5 points and 5.0 rebounds against Big 5 opposition en route to her honorable mention nod.

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