|Chances are, Anais Weatherly took this ball away from her opponent.
Timothy Sofranko/Guilford Athletics
As great of a scorer as Anais Weatherly is, Guilford's senior star has never based her reputation on what she does on the offensive end of the floor.
No, in an era where scoring points gets so much attention, Weatherly likes to be known for what she accomplishes on defense.
"Oh yeah, ever since high school I've taken pride in my defense," Weatherly said. "I've always been known for my defense."
It's hard to argue with Weatherly, who, as of Monday, leads the nation in steals at 6.0 per game.
She has 42 steals in all, which is nearly as many steals (46) as opponents have come up with all year against the Quakers, who, at 7-0, are off to their best start in program history.
"I've gotten a lot quicker getting to the ball," Weatherly said. "There have been times when I've gotten my hands on a ball, and if I had been a tad quicker, I would have gotten the steal. I'm getting to those a lot more now."
Weatherly is also still getting her points, averaging 17.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. She has come up with five double-doubles, ranking as one of the best in the nation in that category.
Her success against the competition she faces week in and week out isn't a surprise. Not when you consider that Weatherly played pick-up games against her brothers when she was younger and spent this past summer involved in intense pick-up games that included members of Guilford's men's basketball team.
She held her own in those games and that has helped her dominate in the women's game.
"It helped a lot," Weatherly said. "I got stronger and faster. It made me an all-around better player."
Weatherly said she focused a lot on her ball-handling skills as well over the summer but also did her best to improve the other areas of her game.
"My off-the-ball defense has improved a lot and I'm also much better in one-on-one situations," Weatherly said. "I'm also playing with a lot of confidence."
Her ability to handle the ball and make plays with it is one of the reasons the Quakers have been so tough to handle in the early part of the season.
Because of Weatherly's ability to score, defenses put an emphasis on stopping her first. That doesn't seem to bother Weatherly much. She still finds a way to get her points and her teammates do as well.
"I get a lot of double teams and that's part of the reason I have so many assists," said Weatherly, who is averaging 4.4 assists per game. "We have multiple scorers on this team, so if
I can't get a shot off, I can just pass the ball off and someone else will score."
Someone like Heaven Walters, who is averaging 11.3 points per game or Lauren Ramsey, who is pouring in 11.1 points per outing. They are part of an offense that is averaging 78.1 points.
"We're just playing really well together as a team," Weatherly said. "Our chemistry is great."
Guilford was picked to finish sixth in the ODAC a year ago and ended up as the champion of the conference, punching a ticket to the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in program history.
Their run ended with a loss to Thomas More and Weatherly said much more is expected of her and her teammates this season.
"Last year was kind of a building year for us. It was like a practice year," Weatherly said. "This year we feel like it's our year."
Lighting up the scoreboard
Perfection isn't easy to achieve but Mike Turner found a way to do it in Oglethorpe's wild 120-104 win over Berry in SAA action.
Turner made all 11 of his shots from the floor, including eight from beyond the arc, as he scored 31 points to pace the Stormy Petrels on a record-breaking day. The 3-point total without a miss was a school record and he also tied the record for most field goals in a game without a miss.
Meanwhile, the Stormy Petrels hit 12 consecutive 3-pointers without a miss during one stretch in the game, setting a Division III single-game record, and they finished with 20 treys in all, one shy of the school record.
Turner became the second Oglethorpe player this season to score more than 30 in a game as he helped the Stormy Petrels hit the century mark for the second time this year and snap a three-game losing streak. Turner is averaging 10.1 points per game on the year.
Drew Patrick nearly had a triple-double, scoring 13 points to go along with nine rebounds and nine assists before fouling out with four minutes to go. Patrick ranks second on the team in scoring at 14.0 points per game.
Howard Payne pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season Saturday, knocking off Texas-Tyler 75-63. Tyler came into the game ranked No. 3 in the nation.
Valerie Matlock had a lot to do with putting the Yellow Jackets in position to earn the upset win.
Flirting with a triple-double, Matlock scored 17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and came up with seven steals.
Howard Payne has won three consecutive games, pushing its record to 5-4, and Matlock has played a big role in the team's success. Matlock is averaging 14 points and 6.7 rebounds per game and also leads the team in steals with 43.
Matlock is only a sophomore and has come a long way from last season when she averaged only 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game while playing in 25 games.
No quit in the Marlins
Virginia Wesleyan trailed Roanoke by nine points Saturday but refused to fold and rallied for a 71-63 win. It was the second consecutive win for the Marlins and their first ODAC victory of the season.
Virginia Wesleyan led 30-24 at halftime but was down 45-36 early in the second half before making a comeback. Tim Jones led the way with 21 points.
Jones is the second-leading scorer on the team, averaging 12.6 points per game. The Marlins have also played well defensively lately, holding opponents to 63 points in each of their last two games. They forced 19 turnovers in the win over Roanoke and are forcing an average of 14.7 turnovers per game.
Tigers still perfect
Trinity improved to 7-0 Sunday with a 74-53 win over Rhodes and is off to its best start in more than a decade. Monica Holguin paved the way, scoring 16 points to help the Tigers remain unbeaten through seven games for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign. Trinity started 8-0 that season.
Holguin connected on six of her nine attempts from the field in the win over the Lynx, the latest stellar performance for a player who has been Trinity's leading scorer in all but one game this season. She has scored 20 or more points twice and is putting up 16.9 points per outing. Holguin has drilled 11 3-pointers and has also come up with 14 steals for a Tigers team that is averaging 71.1 points per outing and allowing 54.