The Oglethorpe women's basketball team hung tough against previously undefeated Birmingham-Southern Sunday afternoon at Dorough Field House and saw their effort rewarded, prevailing 58-56 to knock the visiting Panthers from the ranks of the unbeaten. The Stormy Petrels came back from a late 7-point deficit to take a 2-point lead on a jumper in the lane by freshman forward Lauren Ransom with 3.5 seconds left, then had two Birmingham-Southern chances at the other end bounce harmlessly off the rim as time expired. The result improves the Petrels to 6-7 on the season, 1-2 in Southern Athletic Association (SAA) play.
The back-and-forth second half saw the Petrels come back from a 2-point halftime deficit to build a 6-point lead with 3:47 remaining in the third quarter. However, the Panthers answered right back with a run of their own. They turned the game back in their favor and again led by two at the end of the third. They then built a 7-point edge of their own with 3:58 left in the game.
Individually, Ransom led the Petrels with 15 points while also grabbing five rebounds and just playing 16 minutes due to foul trouble. Freshman center Alexandria Brown got the first start of her career and performed very well, grabbing a team-high nine rebounds. Meanwhile, freshman guard Bailey Charles led the team with three assists while scoring nine points and recording four rebounds. Birmingham-Southern's Yorisha Bryant led all participants with 25 points and 12 rebounds while going 9 for 17 from the field and 7 for 8 from the free throw line.
Down 52-45 with 3:58 remaining in the game, Oglethorpe began to force their way back into the game. They had the Birmingham-Southern lead down to two points with 1:39 left, then senior guard Emily Buck went to the line for two free throws with 1:23 remaining. She sank them both to tie the game. A missed Panthers shot and a rebound by Ransom gave the home team the ball back with 27 seconds left. After a timeout with eight seconds remaining, Buck inbounded the ball to Ransom on the right elbow. Ransom hit a turnaround jumper with 3.5 seconds left to give the Petrels the lead. At the other end, Bryant missed a baseline jumper and a tip-in attempt at the buzzer. In all, the Petrels finished the game on a 13-4 run over the final 3:47.
The Petrels led 41-35 with 3:47 left in the third quarter, but after a timeout, the Panthers began a big run that gave them a big advantage late into the fourth quarter. They embarked on a 15-2 spurt over 8:15 bridged between the third and fourth quarters to build their 7-point edge, 50-43, with 5:33 left.
Down 30-28 at halftime, the Petrels began the second half on an excellent stretch of their own, beginning the period on a 13-5 run and building their lead to its largest of the game with 3:47 remaining.
In the first quarter, a 6-0 Birmingham-Southern run allowed them to take a 12-6 lead with 3:12 left in the period. The Panthers maintained that margin, 16-10, with 1:05 remaining, but the Petrels started a run at that point, pushing out on a 14-6 stretch that gave them a 2-point lead, 24-22, with 5:35 remaining. From there, the visitors pushed back into the lead, though, maintaining their 2-point advantage at halftime.
For the game, the Panthers actually outshot the Petrels from the floor. Birmingham-Southern converted at a 34 percent rate from the field compared with Oglethorpe's 32 percent. The Petrels hit 24 percent of their 3-point shots, though, while the Panthers hit just 11 percent. The Petrels enjoyed a 22-2 advantage in bench points while the Panthers outscored Oglethorpe 30-14 in the paint.
"I'm so proud of our team and how they responded after a tough night on Friday," said Head Coach Alex Richey. "BSC is having a special year and is doing a great job representing out league. Today, the bounces went our way late and that's just how the game works sometimes. Hopefully, we can build on this over the next few weeks, continue to improve, and be ready for what I truly believe will be as exciting a conference tournament as the SAA has seen in its brief history."
Oglethorpe will next be in action Saturday evening, when they play host to in-state rival Berry at Dorough Field House beginning at 6 p.m. The Vikings defeated the Petrels 52-49 in the SAA opener for both teams back on Dec. 4.