The Atlantic 10 Conference announced its Inaugural Women's Basketball Legends Wednesday, including two-time Charlotte 49ers all-America Paula Bennett. Consisting of a group of 16 former women's basketball student-athletes, the inaugural group is recognized for their contributions to their institutions' basketball programs.
"I congratulate our inaugural class of Atlantic 10 Legends. These women have been instrumental in establishing the outstanding history of the A-10 women's basketball programs," stated Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade. "Individually each legend has become a role model for others as they competed and benefited from Title IX to elevate women's basketball within the A-10 and nationally. They are a credit to their institutions, the league and are deserving of this honor on behalf of the Atlantic 10 Conference. "
Bennett, of Williamston, N.C., starred for the 49ers from 1979-82. A two-time all-America, Bennett earned first team all-America honors in 1980 from the American Women's Sports Foundation, becoming the 49ers first and only first team all-America in women's basketball. She averaged 21.1 points in 1980 as the 49ers won the NCAIAW Division II Championship. She earned honorable mention all-America honors in 1981-82.
The only player in school history to score over 2000 points, Bennett is first all-time with 2078 career points ranks and second all-time with over 1300 career rebounds. She boasts career records with both a 19.6 scoring average and a 12.3 rebounding average.
The 49ers posted three straight 20-win campaigns in her four seasons, a feat that has been accomplished just one time since.
She is one of only two 49ers to be named team MVP in three different seasons and she owns three of the 49ers top four single-season scoring efforts.
She still ranks in the program's all-time top three in career points, rebounds, steals and field goals made. Her fourteen 30-point games are still the program standard.
She averaged a double-double in each of her four years, bursting onto the scene with a freshman record 21.3 scoring average and 13.9 rebounds in her rookie season.
She was the 49ers first women's basketball player to have her jersey retired. Bennett went on to play professionally with the military and was named to the all-Army team seven times as well as to the all-Military team.
The Women's Basketball Legends will be honored on March 16 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., the morning of the 2013 A-10 Women's Basketball Championship finals. Each honoree will be recognized during an awards brunch in the 40/40 Club, beginning at 11 am.
Each institution selected its Legend. The group is made up entirely of former players, all of which began their careers in 1976 or later. They represent 10 states and one foreign country and there are six All-Americans and three academic All-Americans among the honorees.
Yesterday, the A-10 announced its men's basketball legends, which included all-time 49ers great Cedric Maxwell, whose standout four-year career carried the 49ers to the 1977 Final Four and 1976 NIT Finals.