Stormy Petrels Hang on Late for Hard-Fought 63-61 Victory

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The Oglethorpe women's basketball team held on for a 63-61 Southern Athletic Association victory over Berry Saturday night at Dorough Field House, improving their record to 7-7 overall on the season and 2-2 in SAA play. The Stormy Petrels came back from a 7-point deficit early in the second half by outscoring the visiting Vikings 20-7 in the third quarter, building their lead to as many as 11 points early in the fourth. Berry came back to within a single point with less than 30 seconds left, but the Petrels held on for the victory, turning the Vikings away in the game's final possession.

The Petrels got the best performance of freshman center Alexandria Brown's young career thus far, as she recorded her first double-double, scoring 14 points on 6 of 9 from the field while grabbing an impressive 16 boards, including an incredible 11 offensive rebounds. In fact, she outrebounded the entire Berry team on the offensive glass, 11-10. Fellow freshman forward Lauren Ransom added her customary double-digit point total, putting in 17 while recording three blocks. Freshman guard Bailey Charles led the team with three assists while scoring 10 points on 4 of 8 from the field and a perfect 2 for 2 at the free throw line. 

Oglethorpe led 50-39 with 8:34 remaining in the contest, but Berry started to push their way back into it. They outscored the Petrels 12-8 over a 5:37 stretch to pull to within three, 58-55, with 2:33 remaining. After the Petrels hit a pair of free throws and Ransom nailed a jumper with 59 seconds left, though, they were back up 62-55. However, a Berry 3-pointer, followed by a quick Oglethorpe turnover and another Viking triple, quickly shrank the Oglethorpe lead to a single point, 62-61, with 26 seconds left. After a pair of missed Petrel free throws with 24 seconds remaining, Ransom grabbed a huge offensive rebound, allowing the home team to maintain possession of the ball. Senior guard Emily Buck got fouled and made 1 of 2 at the line, pushing the lead to 63-61 with six seconds remaining. The Vikings had a look at the buzzer to tie at the other end, but the shot caromed harmlessly off the front rim, giving the Petrels the victory.

Down 33-26 with 9:39 left in the third quarter, the Petrels began asserting themselves and quickly worked their way back into the game. They reeled off 15 consecutive points over the next 5:15, taking a 41-33 lead with 4:15 left in the period. They outscored the Vikings 20-5 over the remainder of the period after falling down by seven points, and extended their run into the fourth quarter. The run totaled 24-6 over around 11 minutes of play. 

The two teams largely traded baskets in the first quarter, but the Petrels began a run toward the end of the period. Down 8-7 with 3:54 remaining in the stanza, the Petrels began a 13-5 stretch that bridged into the second quarter and built a 20-13 edge with 7:33 remaining in the half. Berry answered with a run of their own, though, going on a 15-2 spurt over the next 4:50 and pushing out to a 27-22 lead late in the first half.

For the game, Berry outshot the Petrels 42-to-40 percent, but Oglethorpe nailed 33 percent of their 3-point attempts while Berry shot just 22 percent from long distance.. Oglethorpe outrebounded the Vikings 41-35, including a 16-10 advantage on the offensive boards that was almost entirely attributable to Brown. The Petrels forced 17 Berry turnovers while committing 13 themselves. The Petrels also outscored the Vikings 15-7 off the fast break.

"Alex Brown's work on the glass was incredible and we grew up in the second half, which was exciting to see," said Head Coach Alex Richey. "Early on, we made some mental mistakes, but cleaned those up in the second half to get a good team win. There's still a lot of ball to be played, but I'm happy and excited about the direction we are headed as a group."

The Petrels will be back in action Friday, Jan. 22, when they travel to Memphis, Tennessee, to take on Rhodes at 7 p.m. Eastern. After that, they'll continue their SAA road trip on Sunday, Jan. 24, when they venture to Conway, Arkansas, to go against Hendrix at 2 p.m. Eastern.