For Montreat College’s Arianna Williams, a basketball career that began in seventh grade culminated with her 1,000th collegiate career point last week against Bryan College at McAlister Gym. She crossed the threshold with a flourish, hitting a three-pointer to eclipse the mark, despite being a player who has made a career of determinedly driving the lane for the Cavs.
She is just the 14th player in Montreat women’s basketball history to hit the mark.
“This was a special night for her,” said head coach Tim Lewis following the game. “Scoring 1,000 points is a huge milestone for an athlete in a college career. She’s been through a lot the past four years, so it’s great so see her being so consistent.”
The senior from Lawrenceville, Georgia’s road to 1,000 points began under the direction of her first youth league head coach, step-father Alonzo Bryant. Bryant, along with Williams’ mother, Amelia Uriegas, was on hand for the landmark basket on Feb. 4, as was her younger brother, Ari.
She attended Lawrenceville’s Mountain View High School, in a region filled with basketball talent. In high school, she drew matchups against Diamond DeShields and Lexie Brown, both current WNBA players. She flourished in the competitive environment, and drew the attention of Division I basketball programs.
Her career changed course dramatically in September 2014 when she was involved in a serious car accident early in her senior year that left her with a broken right clavicle. Estimates for her full recovery ranged from two to three months, or more. Williams was diligent in her rehabilitation, and by late November was back playing for Mountain View.
She recalls vividly that first tentative return to the court. “I remember coming into the game. I didn’t want anyone to touch my arm,” said Williams. “I was really nervous.”
Before the injury, she was getting recruited by larger programs, such as Charleston Southern, where she was eyed by Meghan Austin, the former Montreat head coach who was on the staff for the Buccaneers at the time.
Following her senior high school season, and with Austin now at Montreat, she worked out with two other prospects, Darah DeWalt and Katie Dillon, at McAlister. The three bonded, and upon returning home, Williams made the decision to commit to the Cavaliers, as ultimately did DeWalt and Dillon. All three are in the midst of a vastly improved senior campaign, with an 11-14 overall record after winning seven games last year.
Coming into the current season, Williams saw that she was getting within striking range of the 1,000-point mark. As she approached it, she had regular assistance in her stat-keeping and motivation from her teammates, helping her push through several slumps as she drew ever nearer to the mark. Her fellow teammates regularly tallied how many points she needed to break the record, and even added suggestions on when to break it. “They said, ‘You can do this, Ari,’” said Williams.
On the road on February 2 against Brenau she had 18 points, setting up the opportunity for her to break the record at home against Bryan.
Williams reached 1,000 while playing arguably the best basketball of her college career. As of Feb. 8, she had a streak of five consecutive games with at least a double-double, made all the more important as the Cavaliers remained on the bubble for qualifying for the eight-team AAC tournament.
Assistant coach Dasha Sharova helped Lewis obtain the time-honored “trophy” for hitting the storied mark – a basketball painted with a large “1,000” and the player’s name.