WASHINGTON — Native American brothers Miles and Lyle Thompson, the Albany stars who each broke the Division I record for most points in a season, are co-winners of the Tewaaraton Award.
The trophy, given to the best player in the nation, was awarded on Thursday night at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.
The Thompsons are the first Native Americans to win the Tewaaraton and the first players to share it.
Lyle, a junior and the only player in Division I history with two 100-point seasons, had 51 goals and a record-tying 77 assists for 128 points. Last year, he finished with 113 points (50 goals, 63 assists), one off the previous mark set by Steve Marohl (37 goals, 77 assists) of UMBC in 1992.
Miles, a senior, finished the season with 82 goals in 18 games, matching the Division I record for goals in a season set in 1990 by Jon Reese of Yale. Miles also had 37 assists for 119 points.
The Thompsons — whose cousin, Ty, had 41 goals and 12 assists to help make Albany the highest-scoring team in Division I for two consecutive seasons — were born on a Mohawk Indian reservation in northern New York and relished the breakthrough because it was something very special.
“It is the best feeling to share the award with my brother and be the first Native Americans to win it,” Miles said. “No words can express this feeling. We grew up together, we stuck together throughout high school, and it shows how close we are.”
“Words cannot describe how happy I am. It brought tears to my eyes,” Lyle added. “To share the award with my brother is an honor. For us, it is about bringing a positive influence and helping people, not just Native Americans, but everyone.”
Tewaaraton is the Mohawk name for their game, and the bronze trophy depicts a single Mohawk player adorned in a simple loincloth and golden eagle feather. It’s mounted on a hexagon-shaped slab of black granite, the six-sided base symbolizing the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy — the Mohawk, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca and Tuscarora tribes.
Albany head coach Scott Marr said near the end of the season that he hoped the two brothers could share the award and was dumbfounded that his dream came true.
“It is just humbling, it is an amazing honor to our university and program, honoring the players and coaches,” Marr said. “It is great to have the first Native Americans winning the honor. I cannot imagine how special it is for these two to win it together, for all of their family and teammates.”
Albany reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament with a 13-6 first-round victory against top-ranked Loyola. The dynamic Albany duo combined for 15 points in the game, with Miles netting five goals and two assists and Lyle three goals and five assists.
The Great Danes saw their season end one win shy of the national semifinals in a heartbreaking overtime loss to Notre Dame. Albany squandered a five-goal lead in the fourth quarter and lost 14-13. Miles had three goals, Lyle finished with three goals and three assists, and Ty scored twice, his attempt at the winner ricocheting off the Notre Dame goalie’s mask with three seconds left in regulation.
• Maryland’s Cummings female Tewaaraton winner