The Pioneers' team GPA ranked among the top 25 in all of Division II. (Photo: Kelley Cox)
The Cal State East Bay women’s basketball team was named among the strongest academic programs in NCAA Division II earning the No. 24 spot on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II Academic Team Honor Roll July 17.
The Pioneers, who reached the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament for the first time this year, finished the 2011-12 campaign with a 3.43 team grade point average to lead all Cal State East Bay teams and rank among the best in Division II in the classroom.
“We are thrilled with our academic success this season,” Head Coach Suzy Barcomb said. “The team really took on the challenge of breaking into the WBCA Top 25 Academic Honor Roll and now they have been rewarded. We took big steps this season both academically and athletically. We are anxious to continue the growth of this women's basketball program.”
The honor is a first for the Pioneers, who had six players post a GPA of at least 3.4 this year, including Hege Blikra’s team-leading 3.97 GPA in engineering. Blikra, Lauren Lucchesi, Brianna Terrance and Taylor Smith were also Dean’s List honorees, each earning a 3.8 or higher GPA at least once during the last four quarters.
“We would like to consistently have Cal State East Bay in the top 25 year-in and year-out,” Barcomb said. “It shows the commitment of the team members, coaching staff, support staff and our professors. We all understand the value of a quality education.”
During the 2011-12 campaign, the Pioneers made history, earning a berth in the CCAA Tournament in their first year of eligibility since Cal State East Bay joined the conference in 2009-10. The team went 6-3 over the final nine games of the CCAA season to capture the final spot in the tournament before nearly upsetting eventual conference champion Cal State Monterey Bay in a three-point opening round loss. Following the CCAA Championships appearance, the Pioneers were rewarded with their first All-CCAA recognition for Marlene MacMillan and saw Micah Walker collect the program’s second CCAA Freshman of the Year award.
East Bay finished the season ranked among the top defenses in the CCAA, leading the league in rebounding defense (33.9 rpg) and ranking second in scoring defense (58.6 ppg). The Pioneers finished with their best record (12-17, 9-13 CCAA) since the 2007-08 campaign, recording double-digit wins and finishing in a tie for seventh in the conference. In addition, Barcomb collected her 250th career win with a 46-41 win over San Francisco State on Feb. 10.
Cal State East Bay was one of just three West Region squads to earn a spot on the Academic Honor Roll and was the lone CCAA squad to collect the honors. The Pioneers joined Seattle Pacific and Montana State Billings as the only West Region honorees. Eleven of the 26 teams ranked on the list made an appearance in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, including Drury, who earned the top spot in Division Ii with a 3.71 team GPA. For the second straight year, the top Division II team led all three NCAA Divisions in GPA.
The WBCA Academic Top 25 annually recognizes NCAA Divisions I, II and III; NAIA; and junior/community college women's basketball teams across the nation that carry the highest combined grade point averages inclusive of all student-athletes on their rosters for the entire season. The 2011-12 season is the 17th in which the WBCA has produced the honor rolls.