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Meet the 2019 Little Sullivan Award finalists: Alisha Breen

Posted: 3:50 PM, Apr 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-22 16:33:08-04
Alisha Breen was named NCAA Woman of the Year finalist. (MSUB Athletics photo)

There aren’t many MSU Billings or Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s basketball record books that don’t list the name Alisha Breen.

The former Choteau High School all-state forward re-wrote many of the record books, both at MSUB and in the GNAC, on her way to arguably one of the greatest collegiate basketball careers in Montana history.

Breen scored an impressive 2,001 points during her career, landing at No. 1 in the MSU Billings and GNAC career scoring record books. Her 569 career free throws also top both MSUB’s and the GNAC’s career lists. She became the first player in league history to reach 1,800 points and 800 rebounds, according to her former coach, Kevin Woodin.

“Alisha Breen represents everything you want in a student-athlete, both on and off the court. She is a tremendous leader and is dedicated to making her team better. She truly has a competitive fire and spirit that are very rare in sports these days,” Woodin said. “I was fortunate enough to coach Alisha for five years and then I hired her to be my assistant coach last year. Alisha is an amazing person and I consider her a great friend and she is now doing great things as an assistant coach, too.”

Breen helped MSUB to new heights during her final season, leading the Yellowjackets to the program’s first-ever GNAC tournament championship, eventually landing in the NCAA Division II Elite 8 for only the second time in school history.

After scoring 791 points during the 2017-18 season, second-highest in the country, Breen finished her senior season by scoring in double figures in all 37 games, finishing with a career average of 15.2 points per contest. A first-team all-American and academic all-American selection, she racked up numerous accolades, including NCAA Division II first-team all-region and West Region player of the year honors. A three-time academic all-GNAC selection, Breen was tabbed the 2018 GNAC female scholar athlete of the year.

“Alisha’s basketball career at MSUB was simply astounding. I believe her senior season at MSUB was arguably the best season ever by any man or woman at the NCAA level in the history of Montana basketball,” said Woodin. “She broke basically every team and league record, and her Yellowjacket team advanced to a GNAC tournament and West Regional championship by defeating five consecutive favored opponents, whom had combined to beat MSUB 14 straight times over the previous two seasons. Reaching the Elite 8 at the NCAA DII level is the ultimate team accomplishment as there are more than 300 teams in DII women’s basketball.

“However, the truly amazing part of her senior season story was that it was her second senior season. Alisha tore her ACL in November of 2016 and had to take a medical redshirt. I witnessed firsthand her work ethic and determination to return on a daily basis over the next several months. I believe her work ethic and toughness comes from her parents (Jerry & Kayla Breen) and her small-town Choteau, Montana upbringing. I have never seen an athlete work as hard to come back from a season-ending and potential career-ending injury. Once she returned to action, she was even better than before her injury. Alisha led our team to an unbelievable season in 2017-18 and I got to have a front row seat to watch it all unfold.”

Breen finished her MSUB career with 25 double-doubles and multiple top-10 marks in program history. Her 878 rebounds and 82.2-percent free throw percentage each rank No. 3 at MSUB, while her 88 career blocks are fifth. Breen also dished out 290 assists, No. 9 in MSUB history, and swiped 138 steals, which ranks 10th all-time.

Breen joins three other female finalists and four male finalists, each listed below, for the 2019 Montana Amateur Athletic Union Little Sullivan Award, which will be unveiled on Saturday, May 4 during the organization’s annual banquet at the Red Lion Hotel in Billings.

Tickets to the event are available until May 1 and can be purchased by emailing mtaau.reg@gmail.com or by calling (406) 489-0251.

All current card-holding adult Montana AAU members, plus Montana media representatives, are eligible to vote for this year’s winners by emailing selections to mtaau.reg@gmail.com by Monday, April 22.

Montana AAU Little Sullivan Award 2019 finalists

Female finalists

Alisha Breen — Choteau, MSU Billings basketball
Hailey Copinga — Billings Skyview, Rocky Mountain College volleyball
Makena Morley — Bigfork, University of Colorado cross country and track and field
Sydney Stites — Bozeman, Iowa State University softball

Male finalists

Jayse McLean — Great Falls CMR, North Dakota State University baseball
Tres Tinkle — Missoula Hellgate, Oregon State basketball
Brandon Weber — Forsyth, MSU-Northern wrestling
Tucker Yates — Colstrip, Montana State University football