LOS ANGELES, June 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) confirmed today Brittney Griner of Baylor University, Teresa Noyola of Stanford University, and Keilani Ricketts of the University of Oklahoma have been named the Top Three finalists for the 36th Annual Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious Honda Cup, to be announced live on ESPNU on Saturday, June 23 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time.
"The Collegiate Women Sports Awards is pleased to announce Brittney, Teresa and Keilani as the Top Three finalists for the Honda Cup. They have proven they are the best of the best, and are wonderful examples of excellence in women's collegiate athletics. We are looking forward to honoring them as part of the live broadcast on ESPNU of the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the Honda Cup," said Jean Lenti Ponsetto, CWSA Chairwoman of the Board and Athletics Director at DePaul University.
Griner, a 6-foot-8 center who is only the second woman to dunk in NCAA tournament play, led the Baylor women's basketball team to a historic 40-0 season and the 2012 NCAA Div. I Women's Basketball Championship. Griner, who received the John R. Wooden Award and was named the 2012 AP Player of the Year, averaged 23.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and a national high 5.2 blocks per game this season, setting a Big 12 women's scoring record. At the end of three seasons, the junior also became the first women's collegiate player to score more than 2,000 points and block more than 500 shots and needs just 65 blocks to become the all-time block shot leader. In Baylor's 80-61 NCAA title victory over the Lady Irish of Notre Dame, Griner had 26 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks. Griner is a general studies major with an emphasis on outdoor recreation and will return to Baylor for her senior season.
Noyola, a senior midfielder, scored the game-winning goal in Stanford's 1-0 victory over Duke University for the 2012 NCAA Div. I Women's Soccer Championship. Noyola was also named a first-team All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, becoming only the second Stanford player to receive three consecutive first-team honors. Stanford finished the season undefeated, and Noyola's squad amassed a four-year record of 95-4-4. Noyola had 15 assists for the year and 60 in her college career, the second highest in Stanford history. She was also selected as the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Noyola is majoring in math and computational science at Stanford.
"I'm honored to be part of this prestigious tradition and to represent Stanford," said Noyola. "Over the last four years Stanford has challenged me to strive for excellence on the field and in the classroom, and these values characterize the Honda tradition. This honor caps off a very special year for me and I would like to share this with my Stanford teammates."
Ricketts, who pitched her Oklahoma squad to its first appearance in the Women's College World Series in seven years, was honored as the College Softball Player of the Year and has been named to the USA Softball national team for 2012. The junior southpaw struck out 12 batters to lead the Sooners to a 4-1 victory over the University of Alabama in the opening game of the Women's College World Series. Going into the series, Ricketts was second in the nation in pitching with an ERA of .99, second in hits allowed per seven innings with 3.76, second in total strikeouts with 433, and second in strikeouts per seven innings at 11. A native of San Jose, Calif., Ricketts is majoring in health and exercise science at the University of Oklahoma.
"It is truly an honor to have Keilani recognized as the top student-athlete in collegiate softball," head coach Patty Gasso said. "She is a humble and hard-working person whose dedication to the sport has truly made being her teammate, coach or fan a blessing. Certainly this is not just a reward for Keilani, but for all who have had the opportunity to be associated with her throughout her career."
Griner, Noyola and Ricketts emerged as the CWSA's "Best of the Best" on the Road to the 2012 Honda Cup that included Honda Sports Award winners in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports. They will be joined at the live broadcast of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards in Los Angeles, Calif. by Honda Division II Athlete of the Year, Kari Daughtery of Ashland University, Honda Division III Athlete of the Year, Stacey Hagensen of Pacific Lutheran University, and the 2012 Honda Inspiration Award Winner, Elena Delle Donne of the University of Delaware. Schools, conferences and fans around the country are organizing viewing parties on Saturday to support the women, share in the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Title IX, and the watch the live announcement of this year's Honda Cup winner on ESPNU.
The Collegiate Women Sports Awards has honored the nation's top NCAA women athletes for 36 years, recognizing not only superior athletic skills, but also leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. Honda has been a sponsor of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards for the past 26 years. Since commencing its sponsorship in 1986, Honda has provided more than $2.5 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women's athletics programs at the institutions. The 2011-2012 Honda Sports Award winners are Sheila Reid of Villanova University (Cross Country), Megan Frazer of the University of Maryland (Field Hockey), Teresa Noyola of Stanford University (Soccer), Alex Jupiter of the University of Southern California (Volleyball), Caitlin Leverenz of the University of California, Berkeley (Swimming & Diving), Brittney Griner of Baylor University (Basketball), Kytra Hunter of the University of Florida (Gymnastics), Brooke Pancake of the University of Alabama (Golf), Nicole Gibbs of Stanford University (Tennis), Taylor Thornton of Northwestern University (Lacrosse), Keilani Ricketts of the University of Oklahoma (Softball), Honda Division II Athlete of the Year, Kari Daugherty of Ashland University (Basketball), Honda Division III Athlete of the Year, Stacey Hagensen of Pacific Lutheran University (Softball), and 2012 Honda Inspiration Award Winner, Elena Delle Donne of the University of Delaware (Basketball). Previous Honda Cup winners include Ann Meyers Drysdale, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mia Hamm, Lisa Fernandez, Misty May-Treanor, Courtney Kupets, Maya Moore, and Candace Parker.
SOURCE Honda Sports Awards