WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Junior forward Mya Villard (Cromwell) and freshman guard Julie Keckler (Trumbull) of Eastern Connecticut State University have been recognized by the New England Women's Basketball Association (NEWBA) as its weekly Player-of-the-Week and Rookie-of-the-Week, respectively, for the week ending Dec. 9.
The 5-foot-10 inch Villard and 5-foot-6 inch Keckler played instrumental roles when Eastern won its third and fourth straight Little East Conference games with road decisions over Western Connecticut State University (99-70) and Plymouth State University (69-57) and concluded first-semester play at 6-2. Among the wins this semester was a 70-67 road win over No. 1 nationally-ranked and two-time unbeaten national champion Amherst College Nov. 20.
Last week, Villard averaged 23.0 points and 14.0 rebounds with a 66.7 shooting percentage and 14-of-17 free-throw shooting, and also blocked four shots and had four assists. In a 99-70 win at Western Connecticut Wednesday, the LEC rebounding leader had season-highs of 34 points and 19 rebounds (both totals one shy of her career-highs) and was 13-of-16 from the floor and 8-of-9 from the foul line with three blocks and three assists. In a 69-57 win at Plymouth State Saturday, she had 12 points and nine rebound and was 6-of-8 from the foul line.
It marks the sixth time in her career that Villard has been recognized with a weekly award by NEWBA. Last year, she was named Player-of-the-Week once and to the weekly honor roll twice. As a freshman, she was selected Rookie-of-the-Week in consecutive weeks.
In eight games this year, Villard averages a double-double in scoring (16.4) and rebounding (10.1) and also tops the team in blocks (9) and is second in field goal percentage (54.5) and free-throw percentage (72.9).
Villard ranks second all-time among players with at least 50 games played with a career scoring average of 14.7, and has moved to within 58 points of becoming the program's 18th career 1,000-point scorer.
A starter in all eight games this year, Keckler has been named Little East Conference Rookie-of-the-Week each of the last two weeks, earning her first weekly NEWBA nod this week. In two games last week, she averaged 10.5 points, 6.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds in an average of 26.5 minutes. Keckler shot 55.6 percent from the floor and was 9-of-10 from the stripe. Against Plymouth State, she had 17 points, four rebounds and two assists. She was 5-of-7 from the floor (2-of-3 from distance) and 5-of-6 from the stripe. Keckler is ranked fourth in the LEC – first among freshmen -- in free-throw percentage (81.8).
The team's only freshman starter, Keckler is third on the team in scoring (10.3) and first in free-throw percentage (81.8), steals (7), and assists (3.4). She also averages 4.9 rebounds.
Eastern competes in the Salem State University Holiday Classic later this month, facing host Salem State (2-7) Dec. 29 and Endicott College (4-4).