by Cliff Mehrtens

DAVIDSON – As a freshman four years ago, Sophia Aleksandravicius just tried to fit in on the Davidson College women’s basketball team.

Head down. Play hard. Limit your mistakes. Scoring records weren’t on her radar.

Today her name is atop the Wildcats’ list. Aleksandravicius became Davidson’s career scoring leader with a short jump shot in the 87-46 victory against Furman on Jan. 15.

She has 1,514 career points, after beginning the game tied at 1,510 points with Jennifer O’Brien (1996-2000).

“I definitely didn’t think about it when I came here,” said Aleksandravicius, a 6-foot-5 forward from Pound Ridge, N.Y. “As a freshman, you just want to contribute the best you can without making too many mistakes, if possible. I hadn’t really thought about it through the years. Even now, as a senior, I’m just trying to focus on winning.”

The spotlight has found Aleksandravicius plenty the past couple of seasons – Southern Conference player of the year and the conference defensive player of the year as a junior, all-conference last season and as a sophomore, and being named the Southern Conference preseason player of the year this season.

She’s met expectations, leading the Wildcats in scoring (14.9 average), rebounding (10.3) and blocked shots (44).

The limelight may be bright, but it doesn’t keep Aleksandravicius from looking at the game through a team-first viewpoint.

“Scoring titles are great, but if your team doesn’t make it to the postseason, it’s hard to be excited about that,” she said. “But I have great teammates who find me and get me the ball. You obviously can’t do this on your own.”

Aleksandravicius isn’t a one-trick pony. Scoring doesn’t measure her true value.

She owns all of Davidson’s blocked shot records, marks Aleksandravicius set before her senior season began. She has the most blocks in a game (nine), season (95) and career (286 and counting).

She became the program’s leading career rebounder in an early December victory against Gardner-Webb. Aleksandravicius has 940 (and counting) rebounds, well ahead of second-place Carolyn Kirsch’s 878.

“She’s certainly a big piece of our program,” Davidson coach Michele Savage said. “Sophia’s made great strides, but she’s got a lot of basketball left to play. She’s an enforcer in the paint blocking shots. Offensively, she poses problems for a lot of the opposing post players in our conference. Her offensive ability to change the game is so important to our team.”

While Aleksandravicius is concentrating on Davidson’s success, she is preparing for basketball after college. She’d like to play professionally in the WNBA or overseas.

The past two summers, Aleksandravicius stayed on campus to work on her strength and agility. Davidson doesn’t have summer school classes, which means the campus is fairly empty. Motivation can’t come from coaches or teammates.

“It really is on (players) to work in that situation,” Savage said. “Sophia’s always in the gym, all the time.”

When Savage arrived as coach before Aleksandravicius’ sophomore season, she forced her talented post player to learn to shoot with her right (off) hand. Aleksandravicius is now adept at shooting with either hand, which makes her more difficult to defend.

Savage said Aleksandravicius must improve her perimeter defense at the professional level, where she’ll face taller, more agile opponents. Then there’s the trait Savage and Aleksandravicius at which both chuckle.

“Sophia over-analyzes a lot of things,” Savage said. “I think sometimes she needs to just relax and play. She can be a feisty player at times.”

Said Aleksandravicius: “I’m working on that, trying to take things at face value. It’s just a personality trait. I always want to do things better.”

Aleksandravicius, who has roomed with teammate Jasmine Calin for two years, said she keeps things simple: school, basketball and friends. She watched plenty of games – NBA, WNBA and college – to maybe pick up something to add to her repertoire.

“There’s a lot more expectations as a senior,” Aleksandravicius said. “You need to be leading the underclassmen. I pride myself on that, as far as playing and wanting to do things the right way.”

Davidson College women’s basketball

Career scoring leaders

Points Name Years

1,514 Sophia Aleksandravicius 2009-13

1,510 Jennifer O’Brien 1996-00

1,392 Janna Magette 1998-02

1,370 Carolyn Kirsch 1993-97

1,299 Mike Frankhouser 1979-83

1,249 Sarah Womack 1976-80