Cunane a Lisa Leslie Award Runnerup

Brett Friedlander

NC State star Elissa Cunane finished as a runnerup to South Carolina's Aliyah Boston for the Lisa Leslie Award, symbolic of the best center in women's college basketball.

Boston, the consensus National Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, helped the Gamecocks to the No. 1 ranking before the NCAA tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus crisis.

Cunane was one of five finalists for the honor, presented annually since 2018 by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The 6-foot-5 sophomore earned first-team All-ACC and third team All-America recognition while helping the Wolfpack win its first conference tournament championship since 1991. 

Nicknamed "Big Smile" because of her upbeat personality, she led State in both scoring and rebounding and was the only player in the ACC this season to average a double-double. 

Cunane also ranked among the top 30 nationally in defensive rebounds per game (6.9), double-doubles (15), field goal percentage (.547), free throws made (159) and total rebounds (308) while finishing the virus-shortened year at 16.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

State finished the season at 28-4 and would have been a top two seed in the NCAA tournament if he hadn’t been cut short.

Halfway through her Wolfpack career, Cunane has already amassed 988 points and 521 rebounds. Her 308 rebounds during this virus-shortened season is the 10th most in program history.

The other Leslie Award finalists were Beatrice Mompremier of ACC rival Miami, UConn’s Olivia Nelson-Odada and Texas Tech’s Brittany Brewer.