Lauren Battista added another chapter to her storied career at Bentley University on Wednesday when she was named the Capital One NCAA Division 2 Women’s Basketball Academic All-American of the Year.
The senior forward is Bentley’s all-time leading scorer with 1,915 points and carries a 3.95 grade point average while double majoring in marketing and liberal studies. Battista, who hails from North Easton, leads the undefeated and No. 1-ranked Falcons (24-0) in scoring (17.2 points per game) and in field goal percentage (60 percent).
“We’re all very proud of her,” said longtime Bentley coach Barbara Stevens. “This is the ultimate award for a student athlete. Lauren is a Type A high achiever who wants to be the very best in everything she does.”
Battista scored 16 points and added eight rebounds in Bentley’s 95-55 victory over Southern New Hampshire Wednesday night. She also contributed three assists, two steals, and a block.
The 6-footer has led the Falcons in scoring for three consecutive seasons.
The team celebrated her achievement following the game. Bentley has never had a player earn an Academic All-America of the Year honor in any sport.
“I’m super happy about being recognized as a student who excels in the classroom and also contributes to the team,” said Battista, a 2010 graduate of Oliver Ames. “I was told that there are over 3,500 Division 2 basketball players, and to be named as the elite of that group is so rewarding.”
Battista puts equal emphasis on her studies and athletics. By her estimation, she puts in at least 10 hours a day to remain at the top of her class both academically in the classroom and on the court.
“I know that’s a lot of time, but it’s been worth it and it’s something that motivates me to achieve even more,” said Battista, who has led Bentley to a 112-11 record over her four seasons. “My day definitely revolves around both academics and basketball, and I place a high value on being successful in the classroom.”
Battista was a first team Capital One Academic All-America pick last year and a second-team selection as a sophomore. As a junior, Battista paced Bentley to a 30-2 finish while topping the Falcons in scoring (14.9 points per game) and ranking second in rebounding (6.7 per game). She was a WBCA Division II All-American for the second straight year and a second team Women’s Division II Bulletin All-American. As a sophomore, Battista was named the Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year.
Personal accolades aside, Battista’s focus now shifts back to the team-oriented goal of making a return to the Elite Eight and bringing a national title to Bentley. The Falcons were eliminated in the round of 16 last season.
“My first two years here we made the Elite Eight, and last year we got cut short,” said Battista. “That hurt a lot, but we also learned from that. We are a very confident team and we’re very calm, cool, and collected going forward. We feel like we have a great opportunity to make up for what we didn’t achieve last year.”
After such a prolific career, topped off by gaining national recognition for her work in the classroom and on the basketball court, Battista said that capping off her career with a national title would be the ultimate achievement.
“It would be beyond words,” said Battista, who is undecided about her future and will either continue to play basketball or pursue a marketing job after graduating in the spring.
“A national title is something we’ve been talking about and working towards for so long. We know what we need to do to get there. Everyone deserves to make it; the amount of work that everyone puts in is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.”
Battista certainly sets the pace in that regard.
“We talked about the award with the team following the game, and her teammates are all excited and thrilled for her,” said Stevens. “She places a tremendous amount of balance between basketball and academics and places the same focus for both.”John R. Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org