The Oglethorpe women's basketball team used an outstanding first half to grab a big lead on the Piedmont Lions Saturday in LaGrange, Georgia. The Stormy Petrels led 48-33 at the break then held on as Piedmont went on a big run and cut the Oglethorpe advantage to as little as seven in the second half. They were able to do enough to keep the Lions at arm's length, though, and came away with an 81-72 win to start their weekend at the USA South/SAA Classic and improve to 5-1 on the season.
After Piedmont took an 8-3 lead off the bat, the Petrels responded with a 9-0 run over the next two minutes to take a 12-8 lead midway through the first quarter. The Lions moved back into the lead a couple times late in the period, but Oglethorpe finished the quarter on an 8-0 run over the final two minutes to take a 22-15 lead.
They extended that run throughout the second quarter, outscoring Piedmont 26-18 over the period and extending their lead to as many as 17 points. They led by 15 points, 48-33, at the break.
Oglethorpe continued to push their lead out in the second half, as well. They gained their largest lead of the game, a 19-point advantage (56-37) at the 7:31 mark of the third quarter. From the point at which Piedmont went ahead 15-14 late in the first, Oglethorpe outscored them 42-22 over a 14:30 stretch.
The Lions fought their way back into the game, though. They used six straight points to immediately cut the Petrel lead to 56-43 with 5:15 left in the quarter. Oglethorpe pushed it back out to an 18-point lead with a 7-2 spurt and led 63-45 with 2:30 left in the quarter, but Piedmont finished the stanza on a 6-2 run to make it 65-41 at the quarter break. They continued that stretch into the fourth, expanding their run to 12-2 and cutting the Petrel advantage to 65-57 with 6:15 remaining in the contest.
Oglethorpe came back with eight straight points, though, and regained control of the game with a 73-57 lead at the 3:15 mark. Piedmont came back with another run, outscoring the Petrels 15-6 late, but it was too late for them to get back into the game at that point, and the Petrels cruised to the nine-point win.
Sophomore center Savannah LeGate led the team with a career-high 28 points on 10-of-20 from the field and 12 rebounds. Senior forward Lauren Ransom added 11 points on 4-for-6 from the field, 3-for-4 from the line, four blocks and two steals. Senior guard Bailey Charles contributed 10 points on 2-of-4 from 3-point range and 2-for-2 from the free throw line, throwing in three assists.
The Petrels outrebounded Piedmont 43-33 for the game, including a 20-8 margin on the offensive glass. Oglethorpe also forced 22 turnovers while committing just 12. As a result, the Petrels outscored the Lions 21-7 in second chance points and 21-8 off turnovers. Oglethorpe also shot 75 percent from the charity stripe over the course of the game.
"This was a really good win against a good team," said Oglethorpe head coach Alex Richey. "I thought we had really good energy and moved the ball extremely well in the first half. They made multiple runs in the second half, but we did a good job of finishing down the stretch."
The Petrels will be back in action on Sunday, as they'll return to LaGrange for the second day of the USA South/SAA Classic and will take on the host LaGrange Panthers at 2 p.m. After that, they'll hit the road to play Berry in their SAA opener Friday in northwest Georgia.