The Oglethorpe women's basketball team advanced to their second straight SAA championship game Saturday night with a comprehensive 54-35 victory over the sixth-seeded Centre Colonels at the Hangar Dome in Jackson, Mississippi. The win means that the second-seeded Stormy Petrels will play for their second straight SAA championship on Sunday. It also secured their 22nd win of the season, marking the most for the program since 2008-09.
The Petrels used stifling defense and excellent 3-point shooting to nab their third victory of the season off Centre. They held the Colonels to just 8-of-43 from the field overall and 2-of-15 from beyond the arc while going 6-of-12 from 3-point land themselves and converting at a 43.5 percent overall clip. Centre tried to stay in the game at the free-throw line, making 73.9 percent of their attempts from there. However, it wasn't enough.
The Colonels cut Oglethorpe's first-quarter lead to 10-8 with 3:26 to go after the Petrels jumped out to a quick 8-2 advantage. However, the Petrels finished the period on a 6-2 mini-run and led 16-10 headed to the second.
Neither team shot it well in the second quarter, and Centre cut the Oglethorpe lead to 16-14 at the 7:10 mark. However, Oglethorpe held their opponent scoreless from that point until halftime, keeping them off the scoreboard for a 10:05 stretch bridging the halftime gap. Oglethorpe took a 22-14 lead at the break and extended their run to 14-0, taking a 30-14 lead with 7:30 left in the third quarter. The teams traded baskets for much of the rest of the period, but the Petrels led by as many as 16 points with 1:40 left. They held a 39-26 edge headed into the fourth and final frame.
Despite the Oglethorpe efforts, Centre remained within striking distance early in the fourth and cut it to a 10-point game, 39-29, with 8:50 left. They got no closer than that, though, and the remainder of the contest saw the Petrels slowly pull away from their opponent and put the game to bed. They outscored the Colonels 10-3 over the next 3:05 and pushed out to a 49-32 advantage with 3:40 on the clock. They finished with their largest lead of the game, a 19-point advantage.
Senior guard Jada Triplett led the team for the second straight day, scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 from long range. Meanwhile, senior forward Lauren Ransom put together a workmanlike 11 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore center Savannah LeGate came off the bench again as she continues to recover from an injury picked up a few weeks ago, and she had her best game since returning, scoring 11 points on 5-of-7 from the field.
The Petrels collected 14 assists on their 20 made baskets while Centre had just four on their eight. Oglethorpe outscored the Colonels 28-10 in the paint.
"For the fifth consecutive season, we have won more games this year than the previous one," said Oglethorpe head coach Alex Richey. "I could not be more proud of our team for their effort on the defensive end. We made some big-time shots and it allowed us to pull away. We'll be ready for the championship game tomorrow!"
The Petrels will take on fourth-seeded Rhodes at 4 p.m. EST Sunday at the Hangar Dome for the conference title. The Lynx took out top-seeded Millsaps in overtime Saturday. The Petrels and Lynx split the regular-season series, with Rhodes winning 56-45 Jan. 18 in Memphis, Tennessee, and Oglethorpe winning 65-55 Jan. 25 at Dorough Field House.