The Oglethorpe women's basketball team overcame a poor shooting night Friday night in Dorough Field House with excellent work on the offensive glass to down Sewanee, 62-53, on Senior Night and clinch a season sweep of the visiting Tigers.
The Stormy Petrels fell behind by five points in the early-going, but responded with a 10-0 run to take a lead which they would never relinquish. They led by as many as 12 points in the second half, only to see Sewanee pull back to within a single point with 5:22 left. However, the Petrels pulled back away to secure the nine-point victory, in the end.
The Petrels shot just 26.5 percent from the field and 32.3 percent from the three-point line, but they made 10 three-point baskets over the course of the game. In addition, they dominated the Tigers on the boards, outrebounding them 47-41 overall and 21-12 on the offensive glass. The Petrels also made 16 of 19 free throws (84.2 percent) while Sewanee made just five of 10. In addition, the home side recorded 14 assists on 18 made baskets over the course of the game. Sewanee shot 39.3 percent from the field, but just 19 percent from three-point range.
The Petrels got an excellent peformance from sophomore forward McKenzie Fortson off the bench. She scored 14 points on 4-of-7 three-point shooting and passed out a pair of assists. Sophomore forward Ciaira Hughes recorded her customary double-double despite scoring just two points in the first half. She turned it on in the second half for 10 points, though, and finished with 12 points, 14 rebounds and five steals. She went 4-for-5 from the free-throw line, as well. Junior guard Emily Buck had another perfect day at the free-throw line (4-for-4), improving her Division III-leading free-throw percentage mark to 93.1. She finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, four steals, and a team-leading five assists.
Sewanee started the game on an 8-3 run and held the five-point edge with 16:54 remaining in the opening half. However, the Petrels answered with their 10-0 run over the next 2:40 to take a 13-8 lead with 14:18 remaining in the opening stanza. Sewanee came back with back-to-back baskets to tie the game, but Oglethorpe responded a again with a 13-6 run, building a 26-19 advantage with 6:05 remaining in the first. Sewanee pushed right back to within a point again, 26-25, but the Petrels ended the half on a 6-0 run to take a 32-25 advantage into the break.
The Petrels pushed it out to a 10-point lead right after halftime, pushing it out to a 9-0 run, and extended the spurt to 15-4 in all, taking their largest lead of the game (41-29) with 14:23 remaining. The home side still led by nine points with 9:15 to go, but an 8-0 Tiger run put them within a point, 48-47, with just 5:22 to go. However, Oglethorpe put the game away with one last run of their own, going on a 10-2 run to take a 58-49 lead with 1:14 remaining on the clock. The squad made free throws and held on from there.
The Oglethorpe women's basketball program honored the lone graduating senior on their squad, Erin McPhee, during Senior Night festivities after the game. McPhee got her first career start and sank 1-of-2 three-point attempts during her stint in the game.
"It is always nice to get on a win on Senior Night," said Head Coach Alex Richey. "It was a great way to send out a high-character kid like Erin McPhee. She has always displayed a great attitude and, although she hasn't played a ton of minutes this season, she has still been an integral part of our locker room and what we are trying to build here. McKenzie Fortson had a very nice game for us and we found a way to get enough stops down the stretch to get the win. Our ability to create turnovers in the second half allowed us some easy scoring opportunities, I thought."
The win improves the team to 11-13 on the season, 6-7 in SAA competition. Today's results elsewhere in the league mean that the Petrels have clinched fifth place in the league and the corresponding seed in next weekend's SAA Tournament, which will take place in Jackson, Miss. The Petrels are guaranteed to take on Hendrix in Friday's quarterfinals at a to-be-determined time.
They'll end their regular season schedule on Sunday when they welcome Centre to Dorough Field House. The game will tip off at 1 p.m. and the Petrels will be going for the season sweep of the Colonels.