The Oglethorpe women's basketball team fought hard for four quarters Friday evening against the visiting Birmingham-Southern Panthers, but came up on the losing end of a 55-49 decision in Dorough Field House. The loss dropped the Stormy Petrels to 13-10 overall and 7-5 in SAA play, putting them in a tie for third place with Hendrix, two games back of a first-place tie between Birmingham-Southern and Millsaps.
Both teams shot in the mid-30 percent range from the field, though the Panthers did have four more made baskets than the Petrels. A big difference, though, came at the free throw line, where Birmingham-Southern shot 86 percent to Oglethorpe's 55 percent. The Panthers outrebounded the Petrels 40-30, including a 14-9 margin on the offensive glass.
Freshman forward Karlymarie Dyer nearly collected a double-double, scoring 8 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. Sophomore guard Jada Triplett led the Petrels with 14 points on 3-of-4 from long distance and 5-of-6 from the free throw line, while sophomore forward Lauren Ransom scored 7 points and grabbed 5 boards.
The Petrels jumped out to a 7-1 lead over the opening five minutes of the contest, but Birmingham-Southern came back late in the quarter with an 8-0 run to take a 14-13 lead with a minute left in the period. In the second quarter, the Petrels used a 9-2 spurt at the start to take a 22-16 lead with 7:58 left until halftime. However, it was an 11-2 run from the visitors that allowed them to turn the tables and take a 27-24 lead into the halftime break.
The Panthers continued that run after halftime, extending to a 31-24 advantage with back-to-back baskets to start the third quarter. The teams combined for a long scoring drought with Birmingham-Southern up by a 33-29 margin. The score remained that way until the 2:19 mark, and the Panthers pushed their advantage back to six at that point. The Petrels used a mini-run to get to within a single point, 37-36, with 9:42 left, and then tied the game at 40-apiece with 8:17 remaining on the clock. The Panthers again pushed it out to a two-possession game, making it 47-42 with 6:37 on the clock. Oglethorpe again fought back and got it to 49-49 with 4:27 remaining. However, they would not score again, and the Panthers were able to slowly pull away with seven consecutive points at the end.
"We are so close," said Oglethorpe head coach Alex Richey. "I loved our effort and our fight. This team has not played its best together as a unit yet, and it will be scary when it does. We just have to keep working hard and staying together when adversity hits us, like this close loss tonight. Nothing great comes easy, and I have no doubt that we can be great. I love this team and am proud to be their coach every day we are together."
The Petrels will finish the weekend by welcoming Millsaps, the other team currently tied for first place in the league, to Dorough Field House Sunday at 1 p.m. After that, they'll close out the regular season with a home tilt against in-state rival Berry on Feb. 18.