After four seasons playing for the Binghamton women’s basketball team, senior guard Kai Moon will finally hang up her Bearcat jersey. Though she played at a high level in all four of her years as a Bearcat, she arguably saved her best season for last, leading the team to a 22-win season, its highest win total in the team’s Division I era. For her success and leadership on and off the court, Moon has been named Pipe Dream Sports’ Female Athlete of the Year.

“I think it’s a testament to all of the work that I put in,” Moon said of her season. “I think that going into this year, since I knew that this would be my last season playing basketball, I worked so much harder because I wanted this to be a season that was memorable for me and for the rest of my teammates.”

Moon had her best scoring season of her career in her senior year, averaging 19.6 points per game to lead the team. Moon finished the season as the top scorer in the America East and as the 18th-ranked scorer in the entire country. In addition to her scoring prowess, she easily accumulated the most minutes per game among her teammates with 35.2 and also led the team in steals.

Beyond her numbers on the stat sheet, Moon was viewed by many this season as the leader of the women’s basketball team due to her senior status, basketball skills, character and leadership ability. Throughout the season, Moon found this position to be both challenging and rewarding.

“It becomes a little bit more difficult when it comes time to playing,” Moon said. “People identify you as one of the top scorers and main threats, so you have to find a way to lead your team, knowing that you’re the focal point of a lot of [opposing] teams as well … My teammates made it very easy for me to lead, and I’m just grateful that they saw me as a leader and that I could have helped take this team in the right direction.”

Moon and her teammates did not waste any time getting off to a hot start this season. Under second-year head coach Bethann Shapiro Ord, the Bearcats opened the season on a nine-game winning streak that lasted through early December, capped off by a come-from-behind win at Cornell. During that nine-game stretch, Moon averaged 23.2 points per game and at one point briefly led the nation in scoring.

“I don’t think I realized how much everything had taken off for us,” Moon said. “I don’t think it was until right before the Cornell game when we were 8-0. I think I was just so caught up in always preparing for the next team and making sure that I was ready to be the best player for my team that I didn’t even take a step back a look at how well we had started out … For myself to lead the country in scoring at one point, it was an incredible feeling. I didn’t expect that was the way our season would start, but I think that’s what made that season a lot more memorable.”

Now that her time at Binghamton University has come to an end, Moon will move on to obtain a master’s degree. While she does so, she hopes to become a graduate assistant at another athletics program or enter into the sports marketing field. She also indicated that she was doubtful her career as a basketball player would continue.

Though Moon’s playing days may have come to an end, there are many moments of pride from across her Binghamton career for her to reflect on. Moon specifically mentioned her team’s 22-win season and this year’s victory over Albany, its first since 2011.

“I’m very proud to have been part of the team that accomplished those two things,” Moon said.