March 7, 2003
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Three Notre Dame women’s basketball players were honored Friday night at the BIG EAST Conference Championship awards banquet, which was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick, N.J. The banquet was held prior to the start of the BIG EAST Championship that begins Saturday afternoon at the Louis Brown Athletic Center on the campus of Rutgers University.
Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast was named a second-team all-BIG EAST selection for the second consecutive season. The South Bend native averaged 14.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this season, along with seven double-doubles and five 20-point games. She ranked among the league leaders in scoring, rebounding, steals (2.19 spg.), blocked shots (1.44 bpg.) and double-doubles, while scoring in double figures in 24 of 27 games.
Senior guard Alicia Ratay was an honorable mention all-conference selection, earning a spot on an all-BIG EAST team for the third consecutive season (third team – 2001, first team – 2002). She ranked third on the team at 12.0 points per game, and was second with a .484 three-point percentage. Ratay holds the Notre Dame records for career three-point field goals (256) and three-point percentage (.480), as well as career free throw percentage (.871) — the latter marks ranks in the top 10 in NCAA history. In addition, Ratay closed out her BIG EAST career tied for the league’s all-time best free throw percentage, hitting on 87.3 percent of her foul shots. She has scored in double figures 17 times this season, including five 20-point games.
Besides winning all-conference honors, Ratay was lauded as the Aeropostale/BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She is a three-time Dean’s List honoree and four-time conference Academic All-Star Team member. With her next start, Ratay will break Ruth Riley’s school record for career starts, cracking the lineup for the 125th time in her career. Ratay holds a 3.5 grade-point average with a double major in psychology and education, and she ranks fourth in school history with 1,699 career points. Ratay is the second Notre Dame player in three years to be named the league’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year — Riley was accorded the honor in 2001. Ratay will receive a $2,000 scholarship which may be applied to graduate or professional studies.
Freshman forward Courtney LaVere rounded out the trio of Irish award winners on Friday, earning a spot on the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team. LaVere ranked second on the team in field goal percentage (.500), scoring (12.3 ppg.) and rebounding (5.8 rpg.), placing among the top 20 in the BIG EAST in the latter two categories. She also posted five double-doubles, five 20-point games and scored in double figures 17 times this season. LaVere is the third Irish freshman in the last four seasons to be selected to the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team — Ratay made the squad in 2000, and Batteast was a unanimous pick in 2002 en route to winning the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year award.
Notre Dame (18-9, 10-6) is the No. 6 seed at the 2003 BIG EAST Championship and will open tournament play Saturday at 8 p.m. (EST) against 11th-seeded Pittsburgh. The Irish downed the Panthers, 77-69, in their only regular-season meeting on Feb. 26 at the Joyce Center.
— ND —