MOUNT BERRY, Ga. - The Oglethorpe women's basketball team stayed with a very good Berry team the entire game Saturday in Mount Berry, Ga., and led by as many as nine points with just under four minutes remaining. But the home-standing Vikings came all the way back to take the lead late and knock off the Stormy Petrels, 75-73.
Not only did the Petrels lead by nine points late, but they stayed with a Berry team that had blown out No. 20 Rhodes on Sunday, never letting the Vikings shake them and get out to an arm's-length lead. Berry came back from a one-point halftime deficit to build a six-point lead early in the first half, 48-42 with 17:38 remaining. However, the Petrels fought back from there to set up a back-and-forth second half. They built a 71-62 lead with 3:53 left before the Berry comeback. The Petrels had the ball for the last possession with one final opportunity, down by two, but couldn't get a shot to fall.
For the game, the Petrels shot 35.6 percent, compared with the 36.5 percent mark from the Vikings. Berry outshot the Petrels from the three-point line, 44.4-to-37.5 percent, while the two teams converted at similar rates from the free-throw line (65.6 percent for Berry and 65.2 for Oglethorpe). The Petrels did outrebound the Vikings, 50-49, while forcing 22 Berry turnovers. They also outscored the home side in the paint, 30-20.
Individually, the Petrels got another excellent performance from sophomore forward Ciaira Hughes, who scored 17 points and grabbed 17 rebounds while making five steals. Junior guard Emily Buck chipped in 15 points on 5-of-10 from the field and 2-of-2 from the three-point line while adding two steals. Meanwhile, sophomore guard Dannelle Carroll and senior guard Aisha Atwater both chipped in 10 points.
The Petrels went on an 8-0 run early in the game to build a 13-10 lead with 16:06 remaining in the contest. Berry came back to take a 23-18 advantage with 9:50 left in the first half, but the Petrels again responded with a 15-6 spurt to take a 33-29 lead with four minutes left in the period. Berry came back with a brief run late in the half to cut the Oglethorpe advantage to a single point, 40-39, going into the break.
In the second half, Berry came out with a 9-0 run to suddenly take a six-point lead, 48-42, with 17:38 left in the game. Oglethorpe responded with back-to-back runs, totaling a 17-7 stretch in all, to take a 59-55 lead with 10:13 remaining. The Petrels continued to play excellent basketball even after Berry came back to take a one-point lead, pushing further ahead with an 11-1 run and building their largest lead of the game, a 71-62 bulge with 3:53 remaining. However, Berry began their comeback from there and ended the game on a 13-2 run, taking a 75-73 lead with 13 seconds remaining. Oglethorpe had one final shot, but couldn't get it to go, giving Berry the victory.
"I saw a great response from our team after the Hendrix game on Sunday," said Head Coach Alex Richey. "We played 40 minutes the way we are supposed to. We got a little tired late and have to learn how to close out games, but I was very proud of our group for the effort they put forth today."
With the loss, the Petrels fall to 5-10 on the season, 0-4 in SAA play. They'll now have to play four more games on the road before returning to Dorough Filed House, traveling to Jackson, Miss., and Birmingham, Ala., next weekend. They'll play Millsaps at 7 p.m. Eastern on Friday and Birmingham-Southern at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.