Perry Little, Francine
As incredible as it seems, Francine Perry Little, a future collegiate All-American at Quinnipiac College (now Quinnipiac University) and the school's all-time leading scorer, didn't start playing basketball until her junior year at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. She began under the guidance of Mr. and Mrs. Hillary, a husband and wife coaching team. Francine’s teammates, such as point guard Lisa Caldwell, also helped and encouraged her to develop. Her 6-foot frame didn't hurt.
Francine averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds per game during her high school career and in her senior year she was heavily scouted. Her on-court exploits quickly caught the attention of many college coaches, including Vivian Stringer (Cheney State) and Bill Dixon (Quinnipiac). Dixon finally prevailed and Francine joined Caldwell, her former high school teammate, at Quinnipiac.
Francine immediately made her mark in the New England Collegiate Conference. During her freshman season in 1981-82, Francine led NCAA Division II rebounders with 23.3 rebounds per game and was ranked 13th in the country with 20.1 points per game. In one game against Saint Michael’s College, Francine had 27 points and 29 rebounds. As a freshman, Francine averaged more than 23 rebounds per game, converted more than 60 percent of her field goal attempts, led the Quinnipiac team in total points (572), points per game average (20.4) and in total rebounds (235).
It was just the start of a magical four-year run for Francine and Quinnipiac College women’s basketball.
Francine's career still stands as one of the finest in Quinnipiac history and she has been honored with inclusion in the Quinnipiac Athletic Hall of Fame (1988) and the New England Basketball Hall of Fame (2006). She is the Bobcats' all-time leading scorer (1,855) and rebounder (1,546). Francine still holds the school's single-season records for points (656, 1984-85), points per game (21.2, 1984-85), rebounds (635, 1981-82), blocked shots (118, 1984-85) and field goals (266, 1984-85). In some single-season categories, she holds the top two, even three spots.
As a junior, Quinnipiac’s 6-2 center was perhaps the most dominating player in New England Division II basketball, leading the Bobcats to a 28-3 record and an NCAA tournament berth. Francine led the team with 16.4 points and 13.9 rebounds (fourth in the country in Division II) per game. She led the NECC in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage and led the team to the league tournament championship, beating New Haven 68-63 for what was the program's 17th straight victory. The 18th straight came in the NCAA first round over Bentley (Francine scored 32 points) and served as the first NCAA tournament victory in history for the Braves (as they were then known). Francine was an All-NECC selection, ECAC North Player of the Year and was named to the Division II All-America team for the first time.
Her senior year featured more of the same: another NECC title, another trip to the NCAA tournament and another All-America selection. Francine led the team in scoring (20.5), rebounding (15), field goal percentage (.570) and blocked shots (118). The Braves finished 27-4, advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals before Mercer College put an end to their dreams of a Final Four.
Francine loved the game of basketball – the people she met and the friends she made.