The Oglethorpe women's basketball team spent most of its season opener Tuesday evening in Atlanta's Druid Hills neighborhood fighting back from behind against the homestanding Emory Eagles. Though they twice tied the game after Emory pushed their lead out to eight points, the Stormy Petrels were unable to get over the hump on the road, and the Eagles prevailed, 71-66, in the opening game of the campaign for the two teams.
The Petrels got a double-double from sophomore forward Lauren Ransom, who scored 15 points and collected 10 boards while recording a pair of blocks. Transfer sophomore Jada Triplett scored 12 points on 2-of-4 three-point shooting in her Petrels' debut, as well.
Oglethorpe held their only lead of the contest after a Ransom layup 90 seconds into the game. From there, though, the Eagles took the lead and held onto it for the remainder of the quarter, holding a 15-13 advantage headed into the second period.
Emory began the second quarter on a 7-2 run, though, pushing out to a 22-15 advantage. The Petrels pushed back to within three points a couple of times, but the Eagles used five consecutive points to take a 31-23 lead with 5:03 remaining in the half. The Petrels came storming back late in the quarter, though, embarking on a 10-2 stretch to tie the score at 33-33 with 2:11 remaining until halftime. After an Emory free throw, they held a 34-33 edge at the break.
After an Oglethorpe free throw, the Eagles began a 19-11 stretch that saw them push out to another eight-point advantage, 53-45. The Petrels fought back to make it 57-52 heading into the fourth quarter.
The final frame began with Emory building their lead to its largest of the contest, a 61-52 advantage, with 9:22 remaining. The Petrels immediately began to fight back, though, starting with back-to-back baskets to make it 61-56 with 8:32 remaining. Consecutive baskets by Emory, though, moved them back up to their largest lead of nine points with 8:07 left. They maintained that advantage, leading 65-56 with 5:44 left. Five consecutive Oglethorpe points brought them back to within four, but back-to-back Emory baskets put them back up by eight, 69-61.
The Petrels mounted one final push, getting a three-pointer from sophomore guard Brooke Simpson and an inside bucket from Ransom to make it 69-66 with 1:07 left. Oglethorpe got the ball back with 30 seconds left, giving themselves a chance to tie the game. They couldn't get a shot to fall, though, and Emory secured the game with a pair of free throws with five seconds left.
The Petrels outshot the Eagles for the game, 36-to-34 percent, including shooting 38 percent from three-point range to Emory's 24 percent. However, Emory went 16 for 19 (84 percent) from the free throw line while Oglethorpe was 4 for 7 at the stripe. The Eagles outrebounded the Petrels 54-45 for the game.
"We played well in spurts tonight and I was happy with the effort," said Oglethorpe head coach Alex Richey. "The keys to the game were rebounding and taking care of the ball, and we lost in both of those categories. Overall, I loved our fight. We are just scratching the surface and have to keep working together and working hard and growing from the experience we gained tonight to hopefully have a better result on Friday."
The Petrels now travel to North Manchester, Indiana, for the Manchester University Main View Tipoff Classic over the weekend. They'll take on Benedictine (Illinois) Friday at 5 p.m. before going against St. Mary's (Indiana) Saturday at 1 p.m.