The Oglethorpe women's basketball team used suffocating defense in the first half and a poised performance in the second half to pull away with a 62-50 victory in their SAA opener over Berry Saturday night in Mount Berry. The Stormy Petrels held the homestanding Vikings to 11 percent from the field in the first half and held them without a basket for the opening 16 minutes of the game. They then hit free throws down the stretch to secure the victory, improving to 4-3 on the year overall and 1-0 in SAA play.
The Petrels got several excellent individual performances en route to the road victory. Sophomore forward Lauren Ransom scored 16 points and collected 12 rebounds, securing her third double-double of the season. She also collected 5 blocks and 6 steals on the evening. Sophomore guard Bailey Charles scored 16 points of her own, sinking 6 of 7 free throw attempts and making 3 steals.
The Petrels used stifling defense to get out to a first quarter advantage despite only shooting 31 percent from the field during the period. They led 10-1 after the first period and continued that stretch into the second. In total, Oglethorpe began the game on a 22-5 run over the opening 16 minutes of play, and did not give up their first basket of the game until the 3:47 mark of the second quarter.
Berry bounced back after the Petrels began the second stanza on a 12-4 run, though, using four straight baskets and a free throw to go on a 10-0 stretch to end the half. Despite not scoring their first basket until late in the half, the Vikings were down by just seven points, 22-15, at the break.
The home team continued their run into the third quarter, trading two baskets for an Oglethorpe free throw and extending their stretch to 14-1 since late in the first half. The Vikings were within just four points, 23-19, with 9:18 remaining in the third quarter.
However, the Petrels responded and pushed the game back out to arm's length. They used a 6-0 run to build a 29-19 advantage with 8:16 left in the period. Another Berry stretch cut the visitors' lead to 29-26 with 5:12 remaining in the quarter, but the Petrels used a 12-1 run over a 3-minute stretch to build their advantage back out to 41-27 with 1:27 left in the third quarter.
Eight consecutive Berry points got them right back into it early in the fourth, putting them behind just 41-35 with 8:05 remaining. The Petrels went back on the war path, though, outscoring the Vikings 12-2 over the next 3:13 to take a 53-37 lead with 4:42 to go. Berry was able to work their way back to within 11 with 2:44 left, and to within nine with a minute to go, but the Petrels didn't let them get any closer, hitting big free throws down the stretch.
The Petrels outscored their opponent 32-16 in the paint and 21-6 off turnovers, despite only turning the ball over three fewer times than the Vikings.
"Our defensive intensity tonight was its best of the young season, which is why we came out with a very good road victory," said Oglethorpe head coach Alex Richey. "Neither team could make a jump shot, but I love how our team adjusted to feed the ball inside, as well as drive the ball to the basket. This allowed us to score and get to the free throw line late. We definitely grew up a little bit tonight. I'm proud of our team and we will enjoy this one, but we have a tough road game at Covenant on Tuesday."
The Petrels travel to the top of Lookout Mountain to take on the Scots at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. After that, they'll return home to host Maryville (Tennessee) at 4 p.m. Saturday and North Carolina Wesleyan at 4 p.m. Sunday.