When she looked up, Alexandra Chili admitted she got a little scared.
She had just knocked down a pair of free throws in the closing seconds of the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team’s Centennial Conference Championship win at Johns Hopkins. But the game had been all but decided for several minutes, so she had no idea why her teammates were charging at her.
When they picked her up, the announcement came over the P.A. system: Those foul shots, the 339th and 340th of her career, pushed her all-time point total to 1,966, the most in conference women’s history.
“I was really confused,” Chili said. “I didn’t know I was that close, so I had no idea what everyone was doing.
“I’m just glad they didn’t drop me like they did last year,” she added with a laugh, referencing the celebration after her game-winning 3-pointer against Williams in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Her 28-point effort was just enough to surpass the previous mark of 1,965 set by Swarthmore’s Heather Kile from 1999-02. She is just seven points shy of the conference record for men or women (1,973) held by Dennis Stanton from 2001-04 and 34 away from 2,000.
It’s just the latest of countless milestones for Chili, who also holds the conference mark with 328 career threes (ninth in Division III history) and the school records for career field goals (649) and the top four single-season scoring and 3-point marks.
But for all of her accolades, including second-team Academic All-America honors this season and honorable mention All-America laurels last year, Chili said none of the accomplishments ever came close to crossing her mind when she first stepped on campus three-and-a-half years ago.
Following an illustrious, yet somewhat frustrating, high school career in which she scored more than 2,000 points on a team that hovered around .500 most seasons, she was drawn to the Mules’ success.
She wanted to play for a winning program and had her sights set on team, rather than personal, goals.
“I never could have dreamed this when I was a freshman,” Chili said. “My goal was to just do whatever it took to help the team win. I’ve played with a lot of great players who have helped me during my career. This is not just about me; the record would not have been possible without so many great coaches and teammates.”
As she had hoped, all of her individual accomplishments have come hand-in-hand with team successes. Chili is part of a senior class that tied the school record with 92 career wins. The Mules have played in the CC title game in each of her four seasons, winning three, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament each year.
There have also been two trips to the “Sweet 16,” which she still rates as the two most memorable moments of her career. And she hopes there’s still a chance for one more run.
And that’s what has served as her motivation during her career. While spending countless hours in the gym taking thousands upon thousands of shots, Chili was not focused on numbers or records. All she could think about, she said, was winning, and more importantly, how much she can’t stand losing.
For as mild-mannered as she is away from basketball, Chili morphs into an ultra-competitor as soon as steps onto the court. And it’s that drive that has made her one of the greatest players in CC history, but more importantly, helped the Mules establish a tradition of excellence.
“It’s a great honor to break the record; there have been a lot of great players that have played in this conference,” she said. “But I’m even more proud of our team and how we came together to win the championship.
“I’m sure when I look back on my career the record will mean a lot more. But right now, I’m just worried about trying to keep on winning. I want to play at least a few more games.”