College Women’s Basketball Final – Guilford 59, Lynchburg 53 (ODAC Finals)

SALEM, Va. – Guilford College’s Anais Weatherly (Winston-Salem, N.C./Mount Tabor) claimed the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Tournament M.V.P. as the Quakers earned the school’s fifth Conference Tournament Championship with a Sunday afternoon victory over top-seeded Lynchburg College, 59-53.

Both sides remained even, 4-4, through the first four minutes as both sides featured physical defensive and rebounding play. The Hornets (22-6) produced a 6-0 run after the 3:38 mark to produce a four-point lead. An Essence Abraham field goal stopped the run with 41 seconds left in the period, but an Olivia DeFrancesco lay-up off an offensive rebound at the buzzer gave the Hornets a four-point lead after one period.

Lynchburg mounted a five-point lead 3:30 minutes into the second quarter as the Hornets amassed a 14-2 run after the Quakers (24-3) trailed by one 2:04 into the period. The Hornets held the Quakers without a field goal for the final 6:57 of the quarter. Lynchburg held a six-rebound advantage over the Quakers with the Hornets holding a 12-4 edge in second-chance points. The Quakers shot 18.8 percent from the field while the Hornets shot 38.5 percent on just five field goals.

The Quakers closed the gap on the Hornets in the third quarter, producing a 7-0 run over a 1:48 span in the period to cut the Hornets lead to four. A Jordyn Richardson (Winston-Salem, N.C./Mount Tabor) put-back with 3:18 remaining in the period extended the run to 11-2 and cut the deficit to two points. After Amy Steller (Avdance, N.C./Davie/Pfeiffer) was fouled on a three-point attempt with 1:31 left, she sunk two of three free throws to erase the Lynchburg advantage and claim a one-point lead. DeFrancesco’s three made free throws inside the final minute helped Lynchburg regain the lead with 41 seconds left in the period. An Essence Abraham (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley) jumper at the buzzer cut Lynchburg’s five-point lead down to three entering the final quarter.

The last basket of the third quarter sparked a 6-0 run that went into the fourth quarter that lasted 1:41 into the period, giving the Quakers a one-point lead. The run extended to 14-2 4:20 into the period as the Quakers’ lead extended to seven. The Hornets cut the lead down to four with 4:16 remaining, but the Quakers increased their lead back to eight with 2:20 left. Lynchburg cut the lead down to three on a DeFrancesco lay-up 1:39. Weatherly got to the line twice in the final minute as Guilford’s defense held to clinch Guilford’s fifth league title.

Weatherly finished with 13 points on five-of-11 shooting while adding four steals. Steller led the Quakers in scoring with 15 points on four-of-nine shooting with two steals. Lauren Ramsey (Lexington, N.C./North Davidson) was the remaining Quakers player in double-figure scoring with 11 points on four-of-eight shooting while pulling down four rebounds and dishing three assists.

Charmaine Hairston led all scorers with 20 points for Lynchburg while DeFrancesco tallied 12 points and eight rebounds while dishing seven assists.

The Quakers shot 38.6 percent from the field after shooing above 50 percent in each of the final two quarters, including a 58.3 percent shooting effort in the fourth quarter. Lynchburg shot 36.4 percent from the field, tallying just nine second-half field goals.

The Quakers claimed a 30-14 edge in the paint and made a late charge to grab the second-chance points edge, 16-12. The Quakers finished with a 40-29 rebounding advantage thanks to 14 offensive rebounds.

The Quakers await their selection in the the NCAA Division III Championship, with the pairings being released 2:30 p.m. on The NCAA Division III Championship begins next Friday.