By John Riemer, Athletic Communications Intern

WILMINGTON, North Carolina – History was made at Trask Coliseum early Sunday when Gwen Austin’s No. 23 jersey was hung in the rafters of the 36-year-old arena, putting an exclamation point on the career of the school’s greatest women’s basketball player.

A native of Wallace, N.C., and standout at Wallace-Rose Hill for Coach Earl Teachey, Austin became UNCW’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder in a career that spanned 1981-85.

Austin was joined by many friends and family at UNCW’s women’s basketball game with Towson and thanked them all during a memorable halftime ceremony.

“Gwen was probably one of the most coachable kids I worked with,” Teachey said at a post-game reception in the Golden Hawk Room. “She was a very humble person, but she would always give 100 percent.”

The 6-2 Austin had an immediate impact at UNCW.  She was named First-Team All-ECAC and ECAC South Player-of-the-Year in 1984-1985 after averaging 20.4 points and 12.8 rebounds. During her 109-game career, she averaged a double-double of 18.9 points and 11.8 rebounds, shooting a remarkable 52 percent from the field.

“Gwen was such a delightful person to coach,” said Marilyn Christoph, Austin’s coach and UNCW’s former head coach. “Gwen was a great ball player, but an even greater person. She helped us achieve great success. The statistics speak for themselves. We wouldn’t have had the records we had if not for her.”

Austin is the program’s all-time leader in scoring (2,056 points), rebounding, (1,290 rebounds) and blocked shots (222 blocks). She also holds school records for career scoring average (18.9 ppg), career rebounding average (11.8 rpg), owning 16 school records overall.

The Colonial Athletic Association recognized Austin as a CAA Legend during an annual program to honor past greats of the game in 2009. Austin was also inducted into UNCW Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010.

“I worked hard to do my best and achieve good things in my life, and this is a great honor for me to be the first female to have her jersey retired,” said a touched Austin.