The Oglethorpe women's basketball team led by as many as seven over the crosstown rival Emory Eagles Tuesday night in the team's home opener at Dorough Field House, but a fourth-quarter run by the visitors allowed them to come back and defeat the Stormy Petrels 65-59, dropping them to 1-2 on the young season.
There were several bright spots for the Petrels, however, as freshman forward Lauren Ransom had the best game of her young career, recording a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. In addition, senior guard Emily Buck scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, as well, recording her first career double-double on a night when she was honored before the game for winning last season's Division III free throw shooting title. Those two performances were not quite enough to lift the Petrels to victory on the night, though.
The Petrels held a seven-point lead, 50-43, with 7:46 remaining in the game, but the Eagles began their comeback from there and evened the game in quick fashion. They tied the contest with seven straight points over two minutes, making the score 50-50 with 5:54 left. They continued that run and pushed themselves to a 54-51 advantage with 3:19 left. The Emory run totaled 11-1 over 4:27.
Oglethorpe responded, however, with back-to-back buckets to give themselves the lead back. Freshman guard Bailey Charles made 1-of-2 free throws on a trip to the line with 2:58 left, then Buck buried a three-pointer from the corner to give her side a 55-54 edge with 2:36 remaining. It proved to be the last lead the Petrels held.
Emory's Fran Sweeney answered with a three of her own two possessions later to give the visitors the lead back, then the Eagles quickly pushed their advantage out to four points with 40 seconds left. A 1-of-2 trip to the line from Buck made it a one-possession game again with 33 seconds remaining and the Petrels got the ball back with a chance to tie after Emory missed a pair of foul shots at the other end. However, Emory was able to get a steal with 18 seconds left and made their free throws from that point, clinching the victory.
The Eagles led for the vast majority of the first half, the lone exception being a minute-long stretch after the Petrels opened the scoring. They pushed their lead to as much as 11 with a 12-2 run over a 5:50 stretch in the second quarter, leading 25-14 with 3:40 remaining in the opening half of play. The Petrels began their comeback there, though, outscoring the visitors 10-2 over the remainder of the half to go into the locker room down by just three, 27-24. The Petrels extended that run to 23-6 when they outscored Emory 13-4 to open the third quarter, blazing out to a 37-31 lead with 5:06 left in the period. They would extend their advantage to as many as seven with 41 seconds remaining in the third and still held that lead early in the fourth, leading into Emory's comeback.
Neither team shot particularly well over the course of the game, the Eagles outshooting the Petrels 37-to-35 percent. Emory made 31 percent of their three-point attempts while the Petrels hit 26 percent of theirs. Both teams struggled at the foul line, as well, with Emory sinking 58 percent of their free throws to Oglethorpe's 57 percent. Both teams forced a lot of turnovers, with Emory forcing 28 and scoring 24 points off them while the Petrels forced 22 and scored 18 points off theirs. Emory outscored Ogelthorpe 27-7 off the bench, with the Eagles' Azzairia Jackson-Sherrod leading her team in scoring with 17 points.
"I thought our defensive effort was the best it has been in my time as the coach," said Head Coach Alex Richey. "On the other side, though, we have to do a better job of knocking down our foul shots and still had too many turnovers. Correcting that will come with some hard work in the gym as we continue to build chemistry. I'm very proud of my group, though, and I'm hopeful that we can grow from this game."
The Petrels will be back in action at Dorough Field House this weekend, as they'll welcome in-state, non-conference foe Covenant to the Blacktop Saturday at 4 p.m. After that, the team will quickly turn around and travel to Macon, Georgia, to take on Wesleyan Monday at 7 p.m.