The Oglethorpe women's basketball team opened their season on an outstanding note Friday night, leading by as many as 40 points en route to a comprehensive 86-48 victory over Covenant at Dorough Field House. The Stormy Petrels outscored the visiting Scots 68-34 over the final three quarters of the contest, including a 21-9 margin in the second quarter and a 22-8 bulge in the fourth, pulling away for a blowout win after Covenant trailed by just four points at the end of the first quarter.
The Petrels forced 35 Covenant turnovers and scored 30 points off of those takeaways while only giving the ball away 10 times. Oglethorpe forced 17 steals on the evening. They also dominated the Scots on the offensive boards, grabbing 22 offensive rebounds to just three for the visitors. That led to a 28-4 margin in second-chance points and a 43-32 overall rebound margin in favor of Oglethorpe. The Petrel bench also outscored the Covenant bench, 49-8, and the home side made 12 three-pointers while shooting 35 percent from beyond the arc.
Oglethorpe's leading scorer came off the bench, as sophomore transfer guard Sydney Long piled up 14 points in her first contest as a Petrel. She did it on 4-of-9 three-point shooting. Junior guard Jada Triplett recorded 12 points on 3-of-5 from the field, 2-of-4 from three-point range, and a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line, adding a game-high 4 assists. Freshman center Savannah LeGate added 10 points on 5-of-9 from the field in her first collegiate contest. Junior forward Lauren Ransom led the team with 9 rebounds while adding 6 points. Sophomore guard Taylor Dodson and junior guard Brooke Simpson tied for the team lead with 3 steals apiece.
Covenant hit a three-pointer at the outset to take their only lead of the contest, but kept it close through the game's opening 10 minutes. They cut what had been a seven-point Oglethorpe advantage to just a single point with 9:45 remaining in the opening half of play, capping what had been a 7-1 run dating back to the 1:36 mark of the first quarter.
From that point on, it was utter domination by the Petrels. Oglethorpe outscored Covenant 18-2 over the next 6:25, building a 17-point advantage with 2:32 remaining in the half, 36-19. Covenant got a couple baskets back before halftime, but the Petrels went into the locker room with a 16-point advantage, 39-23.
The two teams played pretty much even basketball over the opening four minutes of the third quarter, as Oglethorpe led by 20 with 6:03 remaining. They slowly pulled it out to a 27-point advantage with 2:04 remaining in the period, though, going on a 14-4 run over 4:16 to build their largest lead of the contest to that point. They then removed all doubt in the fourth quarter, embarking on a 24-6 run over an 8:45 stretch to give themselves an 86-46 lead with 1:11 remaining in the contest.
"We feel that if we can create good offense from our defense, we put ourselves in position to be successful every time out," said Oglethorpe head coach Alex Richey. "I thought you saw that in practice tonight. Forcing 35 turnovers is a testament to what great ball pressure our guards provided us in this game. I think our rotations were there tonight, and we got contributions from a lot of different people. I thought Brooke Simpson came off the bench tonight and gave us great energy, especially when Jada Triplett got into foul trouble, and I thought Jada got us going in the first half when she knocked down a couple of shots. Overall, I was super impressed with how hard we played the entire game. Everybody who got in the game tonight provided good energy, the bench provided good energy all night long, and those are the types of things you like to see, particularly when things are going well. Going forward, we want to continue to get better every time we take the court. Our goal isn't to be playing our best basketball on Nov. 17, and I think we have the right attitude and a lot of upside to continue growing as a team."
The Petrels will head across town to Decatur on Tuesday, where they'll take on Agnes Scott at 5:30 p.m. After that, they'll head to Mount Berry for the SAA-USA South Classic, where they'll take on Piedmont Saturday at 2 p.m. and LaGrange Sunday at 2 p.m.