Women's basketball hangs on to beat Sewanee in SAA Tournament, advance to semis

Women's basketball hangs on to beat Sewanee in SAA Tournament, advance to semis

The Oglethorpe women's basketball team got their SAA Tournament started Friday and the Stormy Petrels got out of the gate in a positive fashion, controlling the proceedings throughout in a 61-56 victory over No. 7 seed Sewanee in the first-round matchup between the two teams in Jackson, Mississippi. The Petrels advanced to Saturday's semifinal round with the victory.

The second-seeded Petrels got off to an excellent start, outscoring the Tigers 15-5 in the first quarter. That run continued into the second quarter, as Oglethorpe scored the first four points of the period and took a 19-5 lead with just under eight minutes left in the half. Sewanee answered back with a 6-2 stretch to cut it to 21-11 with 5:40 left until halftime. The two teams largely traded baskets the rest of the half, though, and the Petrels led 29-19 at the break.

Sewanee cut it to a five-point game early in the third quarter, going on a 9-4 mini-run over the first three minutes to make it 33-28 at the five-minute mark. However, Oglethorpe responded with a timely 12-0 run which stretched into the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. They built their largest lead of the game, a 17-point advantage, with 9:20 left. 

The Tigers made a game of it in the fourth quarter, though. From the point at which the Petrels took a 50-33 lead, Sewanee used a 21-9 run over 7:40 to push to within just five, 59-54, with 1:30 still to go. The Petrels played good defense down the stretch, getting a pair of stops on the defensive end. They missed three straight free throws, though, and Sewanee still had a chance. Senior guard Brooke Simpson converted on 1-of-2 to make it 60-54 with 17 seconds on the clock, but another Tiger basket cut it to 60-56 with nine seconds remaining. Sewanee had an opportunity for a three-point play to cut it to a one-possession game, but they missed the free throw. Oglethorpe senior guard Jada Triplett grabbed the board, got fouled, and made a free throw to make it 61-56 with eight seconds left. A steal by senior forward Lauren Ransom sealed the victory.

Triplett led all competitors with 15 points on 5-of-8 from the field overall and 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. Ransom didn't have her best night from the field, scoring nine points on 3-for-11, but she was huge on the boards, collecting 10 rebounds to lead all participants.

The Petrels shot 40.4 percent from the field and were 8-for-24 from 3-point range. They struggled from the line, though, shooting just 52.4 percent. The Petrels held Sewanee to 37.5 percent from the field and 8-for-29 from distance. Sewanee went 6-for-9 from the charity stripe, but the Petrels dominated them on the glass, outrebounding them 43-30. Despite committing four more turnovers than the Tigers, Oglethorpe outscored them 22-9 off takeaways. 

"Tournament play is where you are going to get everyone's best shot," said Oglethorpe head coach Alex Richey, "and I felt like we saw that today with Sewanee. I was proud of the way we responded. I thought we did a good job on the boards and a fairly good job on defense. Offensively, we need to take better care of the ball. A lot of seasons ended around the country today, though, so it's good to still be playing."

The 21-5 Petrels will take on No. 6 seed Centre Saturday at 7 p.m. EST from Jackson. The Colonels upset third-seeded Berry in Friday night's final game.

The Petrels won both games they played against Centre this season in defensive struggles. They beat the Colonels 39-32 Jan. 11 at Dorough Field House and 53-43 Feb. 8 in Danville, Kentucky.