The Oglethorpe women's basketball team found themselves locked in a tight battle Saturday evening with an FDU-Florham team that began the season nationally ranked. The visiting Devils came back from a five-point deficit in the fourth quarter, though, to defeat the Stormy Petrels 74-70, a loss that dropped Oglethorpe to 4-5 on the season.
FDU-Florham used a 25-point fourth quarter to outscore the Petrels by six over the final period and turn a game which Oglethorpe led for over 27 minutes in their favor. The Petrels were able to stay in the game and lead for as long as they did because of an 82 percent (23-of-28) free throw conversion rate and a 46 percent mark (23-of-50) from the field. They also got a huge performance from freshman forward Lauren Ransom, who poured in 26 points on 9-of-14 from the field and 8-of-10 from the free throw line to go with seven rebounds, two blocks and three steals. Junior guard Raegan Merryman added 10 points and five rebounds off the bench on 2-of-4 from the field, 1-of-2 from three-point range and 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
The Petrels took a 56-51 lead with 7:20 remaining on a layup from senior guard Emily Buck. From that point, though, the Devils began an 8-1 run over the next 1:14 to take a 59-57 lead with 5:16 remaining. Merryman responded with a conventional three-point play to give Oglethorpe the lead back. After the two teams traded baskets, FDU-Florham went on a 10-4 run over the next 3:15 to build a 71-66 advantage with 45 seconds remaining. The Petrels had an opportunity to tie the game with their last possession, down 73-70 with 15 seconds left, but missed a three-pointer with six seconds left. The Devils got the rebound and put the game away at the free throw line.
FDU-Florham built a 46-42 lead with 2:50 remaining in the third quarter, but the Petrels fought back at the end of the quarter. They went on a 9-3 run over the remainder of the period to take a 51-49 lead headed into the fourth quarter. They extended that run to begin the fourth quarter, pushing it to a 12-3 run with three consecutive points to start the period, pushing out to a 54-49 advantage with 8:36 remaining.
The Petrels began the game with an 8-0 run, building what would turn out to be their largest lead of the contest with 6:56 to go in the opening quarter. FDU-Florham responded with a 16-6 run over the next 5:20, building a 16-14 lead of their own late in the first quarter. The Petrels responded with a run that lasted much of the remainder of the half, going on an 18-9 spurt to push out to a 32-25 edge with 2:03 remaining in the first half.
FDU-Florham shot 40 percent from the field and 52 percent from the charity stripe. The Petrels outrebounded them 39-33 overall, but the Devils outdid Oglethorpe 13-9 on the offensive glass. The Petrels outscored the Devils 38-28 in the paint and 25-12 off the bench, but FDU-Florham outscored the home team 12-6 on the fast break.
"We are a few plays away from winning these close games," said Head Coach Alex Richey, "but nothing is more important than the experience we are gaining these late-game situations. These battles against strong competition, such as FDU-Florham, will make us even better in the near future. It is exciting to watch our maturation process from the sideline as a coach."
The Petrels will now get a long break for the holidays. They do not play again until Jan. 8, when they start SAA play in earnest with a home game against Millsaps at 6 p.m. That'll be followed by hosting Birmingham-Southern at 1 p.m. Jan. 10.