The Oglethorpe women's basketball team found themselves behind at halftime in Montgomery, Ala., Sunday afternoon, but they went off for 52 points in the second half and ran past the home-standing Huntingdon Hawks, 86-77, for their second road victory of the season thus far. The win improves the Stormy Petrels to 5-4 on the campaign.
The Petrels were behind by as many as six points in the first half and trailed by two at halftime, 36-34. However, the Petrels played perhaps their best half of the season so far in the second, scoring 52 points on 51.5-percent shooting and making 17 free throws over the course of the half. All the while, they held Huntingdon to just 31 percent from the field over the course of the period, including 0-for-10 from three-point range. For the game, the Petrels shot 41.5 percent from the field to Huntingdon's 30.1, including 26.7 percent from three-point range to the Hawks' 18.2.
Sophomore forward Ciaira Hughes had her second consecutive dominating performance in the paint, scoring 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting. She also grabbed nine rebounds and recorded three steals. For the season, she's now averaging 10.1 rebounds per game, placing her first in the league, and 2.4 steals per game, placing her second. She's also in the top five in the league in points (15.3 per game) and field-goal percentage (54.0). She scored 19 of her points and grabbed six of her rebounds in the second half, going 8-for-12 in the period.
Junior guard Emily Buck also continued her excellent play of late, scoring 21 points with a perfect 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. She also grabbed six boards and led the Petrels with three assists. She's now first in the league with a 97.2 percent mark from the line, having missed just one free throw all season.
Things did not start out especially well for the visitors, as they fell behind by six points, 7-1, in the very early-going. However, that would turn out to be their largest deficit of the game. An 8-2 Oglethorpe run tied the game at 11-apiece with 15:34 remaining and the two teams traded baskets for the next several minutes. An 8-2 Hawks run put them back ahead by five points, 26-21, with 7:44 left in the opening stanza. However, another OU mini-run, this one 7-2, tied the contest back up with 3:57 left in the half. Huntingdon came back and built another four-point lead, but Oglethorpe was able to cut that to two at the break.
The Petrels exploded out of the gates in the second half, embarking on an 18-6 run to start the period and giving themselves a 52-42 lead with 14:01 remaining. They would never relinquish the lead after taking it back with 18:35 to play. The Hawks were able to cut the Petrel lead to three a couple times, including when it was 62-59 in favor of Oglethorpe with 7:05 to play. However, the Petrels embarked on the game's decisive run at that point, outscoring Huntingdon 11-2 over the next two minutes of play, taking their largest lead of the game, 73-61, with 4:50 left. A 6-0 run from the Hawks drove it back down to a six-point game with 3:44 left, but the Petrels were able to build the lead back up to 10 with a minute remaining and held on from there for the nine-point victory.
"This was an important win for us," said Head Coach Alex Richey, "not only because we got a win on the road, but also because we built on the effort that we showed Thursday night. We have taken the opportunity to get better this week and our team should now know what type of effort it will take for us to be successful. This was a total team effort and it's good to get back on the winning track."
The 5-4 Petrels will take some time off for final exams before hosting a stacked field at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Holiday Classic Dec. 18-20 in Dorough Field House. The Petrels will take on a very good Elmhurst squad at 6 p.m. Dec. 18 before turning around and playing No. 13 Wisconsin-Oshkosh at 1 p.m. Dec. 19. After that, the Petrels will welcome in currently-undefeated No. 19 Transylvania on the afternoon of Dec. 30.