The Oglethorpe women's basketball team lost to Centre on Sunday in the final game of the regular season, 63-54, in Dorough Field House. The team was up by as many as 13 over the Colonels and led by 10 at halftime, but the Colonels came back in the second half, outscoring the Stormy Petrels 39-20 over the course of the final 20 minutes of play.
Neither team shot particularly well over the course of the game, with the Petrels shooting at a 26.2 percent clip and the Colonels converting at a 28.8 percent rate. Centre made 76.3 percent of their free throws, however, making 29 shots from the charity stripe in all. Meanwhile, the Petrels made 14 free throws while shooting 66.7 percent from the line. The Petrels outrebounded Centre 50-42, including grabbing 16 offensive rebounds, but Centre forced 14 Oglethorpe turnovers and outscored them 26-15 off the bench.
Despite the loss, several Petrel players had strong performances in their final home game of the season. Sophomore forward Ciaira Hughes continued her impressive season with another stellar performance that included 21 points and 16 rebounds. Junior guard Emily Buck had another solid game, adding nine points to the team's total and continuing her impressive performance from the free-throw line, going 5-for-6 from the stripe. Sophomore guard Raegan Merryman had a strong game, as well, with nine points and five rebounds.
The Petrels were first to score after a jumper by Buck at the 19:20 mark put the team ahead by two. The game was tied at five points apiece when the Petrels went on a 10-3 run to take a seven-point lead over the Colonels with 13:19 left in the first half. Centre fought back to within three points of the Petrels' lead before Oglethorpe stretched the lead back out to seven after two made free throws by Hughes with 7:25 left to play. The Colonels managed to cut the Petrel lead back to three, but the Petrels answered with an impressive 11-1 run that would give the team their largest lead of the game and put them ahead of Centre by 13 points with just 29 seconds left to go in the first. Three made free throws for the Colonels would bring Oglethorpe's lead to 10 and the Petrels would head into halftime leading Centre, 34-24.
The Petrels would score first in the second half as well, with two made free throws by Buck bringing the lead back up to 12 over Centre with 18:30 left to play. The Colonels battled relentlessly at this point in the game and shifted the momentum, going on a game-changing 17-0 run that would eliminate the Petrels' lead and put Centre up by five points at the 12:44 mark. The Petrels fought their way back to a tie at 42-apiece with just 8:23 left in regulation, but a 7-0 Colonel run put the team back down by nine with just over five minutes to play in the game. Centre stretched the lead to 12 with 1:25 left and, although the Petrels cut the lead to seven, the team could not overcome the Colonels, who nearly doubled up the Petrels in the second half.
"Our defensive intensity was not where it needed to be in the second half," said Head Coach Alex Richey. "Our inability to get stops limited our transition game and we shot way too many threes instead of attacking, which gives us more rhythm offensively. We can still do a lot of great things, but we need to pick up our perimeter defense if we want to have a chance to make a run next weekend."
Sunday's game against Centre marks the final home game for the Petrels as well as their final regular season game. The Petrels finish with an 11-14 record overall and a 6-8 record in SAA play, putting them in a fifth-place tie with Centre to finish the season. The two teams split their regular-season meetings, with the Petrels winning up in Danville, Ky., but the Petrels earn the No. 5 seed in the SAA Tournament by virtue of their victory over SAA regular-season champion Millsaps, who Centre lost to twice. The Petrels will take on No. 4 seed Hendrix at 4 p.m. Eastern time on Friday from Jackson, Miss., in the SAA Tournament quarterfinals, looking to exact revenge on the Warriors for sweeping the season series from the Petrels.