The Oglethorpe women's basketball team saw their season come to a close Saturday afternoon in Birmingham, Alabama, as they fell to the homestanding Birmingham-Southern Panthers 64-45 in the semifinal round of the Southern Athletic Association tournament at Bill Battle Coliseum. The loss ends the Stormy Petrels' season at 13-14.
The Panthers jumped out to a big lead early in their home gym and they never looked back. The Petrels played the game shorthanded, as they were without freshman forward Lauren Ransom for the vast majority of the game and senior guard Aisha Atwater for the second half with injuries. Birmingham-Southern jumped out to a 17-4 lead with 3:48 remaining in the first quarter. The Petrels went on a mini-run to get the game back to a 9-point contest, 21-12, with 1:51 left in the quarter, but a 3-point play by the Panthers gave them a 24-12 lead at the end of the stanza.
In the second period, the Petrels largely held Birmingham-Southern in check. After pushing out to a 28-12 lead, the home side had to endure a run from the Petrels. Seven consecutive Oglethorpe points made it 28-19 with 6:26 remaining in the half. BSC pushed it back out with a 10-3 run over the next 2:14, making it 38-22 with 4:10 left in the second period. A 6-2 run to close the half by the visitors made the score 40-28 with 20 minutes to play.
The Panthers put the game away in the third quarter. After Oglethorpe pushed back to within 11 points, 45-34, with 6:46 remaining, Birmingham-Southern finished the period on a 10-2 stretch to push their lead to 55-36 with just 10 minutes to play. The two teams played an even fourth quarter, but it was too late by then, and Birmingham-Southern cruised to the 64-45 win.
Senior guard Emily Buck played well in her final collegiate game, scoring 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting and 2-of-2 from the free throw stripe. She grabbed 6 rebounds and made 3 steals. Freshman guard Emily Toomer also performed well off the bench, going 2-for-2 from 3-point range and scoring a total of 11 points. She also grabbed 6 boards and made a pair of steals.
As a team, the Petrels shot just 27 percent from the field compared with Birmingham-Southern's 43 percent. The Panthers also hit 43 percent from 3-point range while Oglethorpe managed just 13 percent. Both teams shot very well at the free throw line, with the Petrels hitting 82 percent of theirs while the Panthers hit 83 percent of theirs. Birmingham-Southern won the assist-to-turnover battle, as they passed out 14 assists while committing 18 turnovers and the Petrels had just 4 assists while committing 20 turnovers. The Petrels did outscore BSC 27-11 off the bench. Freshman guard Bailey Charles was named to the SAA All-Tournament Team, as well, after her 27-point peformance in Friday's overtime quarterfinal win over Rhodes.
"After all the energy exerted to get to the semifinals, we finally ran out of gas today," said Oglethorpe head coach Alex Richey. "Credit to BSC for playing an outstanding game, but I was very proud of my team for giving it their all despite being banged up after yesterday. These four seniors have been through a lot with a coaching change, adjusting styles, and having their roles change, and they have a lot to be proud of knowing that they are leaving the program in a much better state than when they began."
"The future is bright for this program, but we still have a long way to go to get to where we want to be," continued Richey. "I am very happy with the progress we made this year, though, and I'm hopeful that with a great offseason for our returners and some more pieces being added to the puzzle that we will be even more dangerous next season than we were this one."