The Oglethorpe women's basketball team clinched at least a share of the first SAA regular season title in its history Friday night in Tennessee, as they knocked off the homestanding Sewanee Tigers 77-64 to improve to 10-2 in league play and 17-6 overall. It marks the second conference regular season title in program history, and the first since the 2008-09 team shared the SCAC regular season and Eastern Division titles with DePauw. It also marks the first time since that season the the Stormy Petrels have accrued double-digit wins within league play.
The Petrels led the vast majority of the contest Friday night, only trailing a couple of times briefly in the first half. They took an 8-7 lead at the 5-minute mark of the first quarter and would never relinquish it. After falling behind 7-3 in the early-going, they went on a 12-3 run to turn the game in their favor and take a 15-10 lead with 1:07 remaining in the first quarter. The Tigers responded with an 11-5 stretch bridging between the end of the first and the start of the second quarters and briefly took the lead back, 21-20, with 7:18 remaining in the first half. However, the Petrels quickly wrestled the lead back and would never relinquish it. They finished the half on a 16-7 run over the final 6:45 of the second quarter, building a 36-28 lead at halftime.
The Petrels continued to push their advantage in the third quarter, outscoring Sewanee 25-20 over the course of the period. They took control of the game with a 10-1 run over a 3-minute stretch bridging from late in the third quarter to early in the fourth, building their largest lead of the game, a 63-48 advantage with 9:45 remaining. They equaled that when they went ahead 67-52 at the 7:16 mark. The Tigers were able to cut it to as little as an 8-point game with a 7-0 run leading up to the 5:56 mark, but the visitors kept them at arm's length for the remainder of the contest.
Freshman center Savannah LeGate led the Petrels with 17 points on 9-of-11 from the free throw line. She also grabbed 15 rebounds, recording her 15th double-double of the season, and recorded a pair of blocks. Freshman Audrey Burdge scored a game-high 14 points of the bench, sinking 4 of 8 shots from the field and 6 of 7 free throw attempts while grabbing 12 rebounds and two steals of her own. Junior Karlymarie Dyer finished the game with 10 points and six boards.
For the game, Oglethorpe outrebounded Sewanee 52-34, including a 26-11 advantage in offensive boards. As a result, the Petrels dominated in second chance points, outscoring the Tigers 29-3 in the category. The Petrels also made 17 free throw attempts to Sewanee's five and shot 74 percent from the charity stripe.
"We had a great week of practice, which showed on the court tonight," said Oglethorpe head coach Alex Richey. "Sewanee is such a tough cover with their ability to shoot from the perimeter at multiple positions, but we just continued to attack the glass for second chance opportunities and made big shots when we needed them. Our free throws were another highlight tonight, and all of that gave us just enough space to get a great road win. We want to be playing our best over the next few weeks as we roll into the tournament, and I felt like we took a step in the right direction."
With Hendrix's victory over Birmingham-Southern on Friday night, the Warriors remain two games behind the Petrels with two to play. Oglethorpe can clinch the league title outright with a victory over Centre in Danville, Kentucky, Sunday at 1 p.m., or with a Hendrix loss at home to Millsaps that same day. Just one more Petrel win or Hendrix loss over the final two games would clinch the No. 1 seed in the SAA Tournament for Oglethorpe, and tournament hosting duties along with it.