The Oglethorpe women's basketball team earned its first SAA win of the season Sunday afternoon in Birmingham, Ala., outlasting Birmingham-Southern, 73-67, in a game that saw the Stormy Petrels put the game away with a late 11-1 run after the Panthers came back to take the lead with five minutes left. The victory improves the team to 6-11 on the season, beating their win total from each of the last two years. The Petrels now move to 1-5 in SAA play and into seventh place in the league.
Birmingham-Southern went on a 23-9 run to claw back from an 11-point second-half deficit and take a 62-59 lead with 5:17 remaining, but the Petrels answered back in a big way. They went on the 11-1 run over the next four minutes to take a 70-63 lead with 1:18 remaining. The Panthers were able to pull to within four with 27 seconds left, but could get no closer, as the Petrels buried free throws down the stretch to secure the road victory.
The Petrels shot 33.9 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc, but they augmented that with a 76.3 percent mark from the free-throw line where they sank 29 total free throws over the course of the game. In addition, they held BSC to just 31.8 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from long range. The Panthers also shot just 56.2 percent from the charity stripe.
Individually, the Petrels got yet another standout performance from sophomore forward Ciaira Hughes. She scored 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting while grabbing 17 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the season. In addition, she made three steals on the afternoon. Junior guard Emily Buck also provided a spark for the Petrels while sinking some big free throws down the stretch. She finished with 19 points on 2-of-5 from the three-point line and 11-of-12 from the foul line. In addition, she grabbed nine rebounds and passed out three assists.
The Petrels began the game on an 8-1 spurt over the first 2:15 of the contest, setting the tone nicely for the game to come. They continued with six straight points to take a 14-4 lead, but BSC answered with three stright three-pointers to pull to within a point. Immediately after that, the Petrels went on a 10-0 run over a three-minute stretch to take a 24-13 lead with 9:29 remaining in the period. After a brief Panther spurt, a 6-1 mini-run from Oglethorpe pushed their lead back out to 12 with 6:51 left. The Petrels built their lead up to 33-20 with 5:16 remaining, but BSC came back a bit before halftime, embarking on a 17-8 stretch before the break to cut the lead to 43-39. The Petrels hit a couple of free throws before the halftime buzzer to lead 45-39 at the break.
In the second half, the Petrels started out well, running off five straight points to build a 50-39 lead. However, the Panthers began their 23-9 run at that point, outscoring Oglethorpe by that margin over the next 14 minutes of play and taking their three-point lead, which led to the 11-1 spurt which clinched the game for the visitors.
"This was a huge win for our program," said Head Coach Alex Richey. "We've had numerous close games recently where, for whatever reason, we just couldn't quite get over the hump, so for us to get one of these on the road is enormous. We get to enjoy this win for a little bit now before we get set to go back out on the road next weekend. Our goal will be to build on this win going forward."
The Petrels have just two games remaining on their five-game road swing. They'll travel to Sewanee, Tenn., on Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern before taking on Centre from Danville, Ky., at 1 p.m. Sunday.