LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. - Announced today by the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC), senior Jessica Salottolo was selected as the 2016-17 women's basketball Player of the Year for her success on the court for Cal Lutheran this winter. Overall, she is one of four All-SCAIC recipients this season.
"I am pretty shocked and wasn't expecting this at all, but it is really exciting," Salottolo shared after learning the news. "I knew I wanted to better myself [after getting a lot of experience and confidence as a freshman] by stepping up and working hard because coach gave us opportunities so young. I dedicated myself to spending the extra time shooting on days off, before and after practice, staying in shape in the summers and I definitely put an emphasis on doing the most I could this year because this was all I had left. My experience at Cal Lutheran has helped me become a better player and person and helped me develop in all areas of life."
That drive payed off as Salottolo capped off a stellar career with the highest honor given by the conference. The Orange, Calif. native also becomes a four-time All-SCIAC honoree with her third consecutive First Team nod in 2016-17 after earning the same status each of the last two seasons with a Second Team selection as a freshman. She is also no stranger to awards, having earned the d3hoops.com West Region Rookie of the Year after her freshman campaign. A guard for CLU, she led the team in scoring for the third time in her career by averaging 13.7 points per game, overall, this season and contributed 14.9 in league play, which was .1 ppg away from being the leader. Salottolo also led the SCIAC in field goals with 95 and was second after shooting 54.6 percent from the floor in conference games for 238 points. From three-point range, she converted 23, adding 25 free-throws for the Regals. Additionally, Salottolo came down with 58 rebounds (3.6 rpg), handed out 36 assists, earned 21 steals and recorded four blocks against league opponents. During her career, Salottolo climbed into three CLU Top-10 career categories including fourth with 1,338 points and 142 assists and fifth with 510 field goals made.
The success Salottolo had was achieved through hard work and dedication not only her game, but to the women's basketball program throughout her four-year collegiate career.
"Jessica was one of the most competitive and hardworking athletes in our program and I could not be happier for her," head coach Lindsay Goldblatt-Samaniego said. "She was consistently putting in extra work on conditioning and offensive skills on the court while also participating in film breakdown sessions almost every week." She went on, "I am happy to see her dedication and hard work pay off with this award; she is a great example and representation for our women's basketball program and the CLU Department of Athletics."
Salottolo becomes the fourth SCIAC Player of the Year for the Regals, joining Katie Carpenter (2000), Valerie Pina (2005) and most recently Lauren Stroot (2006).
Finishing on the Second Team All-SCIAC were seniors Haley Hodgson and Janelle Porter as well as junior Tatiana Dunlap. It is the first league honor for all three Regals. Both Dunlap and Hodgson were selected as forwards while Porter reeled in All-SCIAC as a guard.
Hodgson led all student-athletes in conference play with 9.1 rebounds per game with 145 total including 51 offensive boards. She nearly averaged a double-double with 9.0 points per game (144 total) to shoot 40.8 percent from the floor, adding 17 assists, 15 steals and 11 blocks. Finally, the Cypress, Calif. native finished her CLU career with a pair of Top-10 list appearances including fifth for blocks (74) and seventh for rebounds (586).
Dunlap was the hottest shooter in the league until being sidelined the final weeks of the season. She notched a clip of 61.4 percent (62-for-101) from the floor and connected for 50 percent of her three-point attempts to pace the SCIAC, finishing with 16 made. Hailing from Lompoc, Calif., Dunlap also contributed with 69 rebounds (5.3 rpg), 33 assists, seven steals and a block.
In her final season, Porter was a breakout player, showcasing her athleticism and dynamic ability at both ends of the court. She finished the conference season with 163 points for 10.9 points per game and a field goal percentage of 51.4 to rank second among all players. She was 54-for-105, hitting 15 three-pointers with 40 free-throws. Additionally, the Long Beach, Calif. native chipped in with 63 rebounds (4.2 rpg), 29 assists, 23 steals and 10 blocks. She had countless steals that unfolded into a breakaway score for CLU throughout the season.
In overall statistics, Dunlap (56.6 percent), Porter (50.6 percent) and Salottolo (50.2) percent were the top three field goal shooting players in the league in 2016-17. Porter led the way by hitting 41.1 percent from three-point range and Hodgson was second in rebounds per game with 8.2.
"I am proud of Jessica and her fellow teammates who also received All-SCIAC honors this season," Goldblatt-Samaniego finished by saying, "And thank you to our seniors for all they have done for our program."
The SCIAC Newcomer of the Year was Grace Peng from Caltech while Erin Matsumoto from Occidental earned the Ed Baldwin Award. Carol Jue and her assistants from Chapman were named the Coaching Staff of the Year.
Cal Lutheran finished the season 16-10 and advanced to the SCIAC Postseason Tournament for the sixth straight season, fourth under the tutelage ofGoldblatt-Samaniego.
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