Niagara Gazette

Sports

February 13, 2010

COLLEGE ATHLETICS: Cunningham among those inducted to NU hall

LEWISTON — Ed McLaughlin summed it up nicely in an introduction.

“Quite simply, she was the best women’s basketball player to ever play at Niagara University,” the school’s athletics director said before Eva Cunningham stepped to the podium on Saturday.

And with that, the school’s all-time leading scorer was inducted into the Niagara University Athletic Hall of Fame, part of a three-person class that also included baseball star Chris Begg and football player Dick McCarthy. All three were honored in a luncheon held on campus.

Cunningham finished her career with 1,753 points and 553 assists — both still school records — and showed a tenacity on the court that few could match. While accepting the honor, though, she was timid.

“A lot of people say I’m like two different people. When I got on the court I was confident and outgoing and I’d tell people where they needed to be. I’m aggressive. But in person, I’m a shy girl. I get nervous with people looking at me,” she said.

While she might be modest, Cunningham has to pass a huge likeness that hangs on the side of the Gallagher Center next to one of men’s basketball great Calvin Murphy.

“Sometimes, I put my head down and I don’t even want to look up. My sister Grace (a current NU player) passes it every day and says, ‘Oh my God Eva.’ But I’m sure some girl’s going to come in here in the future and break all my records. And it will be great if somebody does it. It’s just such an honor to be in here.”

Begg, meanwhile, hadn’t been to Monteagle Ridge since 2002, but was happy to back in familiar surroundings. The 2001 graduate was the MAAC pitcher of the year in his senior year and later pitched as high as Triple-A with the Fresno Grizzlies, a San Francisco Giants affiliate.

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