The Oglethorpe women's basketball team secured their fifth consecutive win and maintained sole possession of first place in the SAA with a 79-70 victory over Birmingham-Southern Sunday in Birmingham, Alabama. The Stormy Petrels led for the majority of the contest and held as much as a 14-point lead in the second half. The win improved them to 13-5 overall and 6-1 in SAA play, putting them two games up over their nearest conference competitors.
The Petrels got some outstanding individual performances on the afternoon, as sophomore guard Taylor Dodson enjoyed a career day. She scored 21 points on 8-of-14 from the field, 2-of-4 from 3-point range and 3-of-3 from the free throw line, recording five steals in the process. Freshman center Savannah LeGate recorded her 12th double-double of the season, scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. She also made a pair of steals. Sophomore forward Karlymarie Dyer added a career-high 19 points on 7-of-12 from the field overall and 5-of-9 from 3-point range. Freshman guard Audrey Burdge went 3-for-4 from the foul line and added four assists and four steals.
The Panthers outshot Oglethorpe 45-to-41 percent on the afternoon overall and 78-to-70 percent at the free throw line, but turnovers proved to be the decisive factor in the contest. Birmingham-Southern turned the ball over 21 times to Oglethorpe's 10 and the Petrels outscored the Panthers 25-9 off those takeaways.
The teams traded baskets in the first quarter, with Birmingham-Southern gaining as much as a 3-point lead with three minutes left in the period. However, Oglethorpe responded with a 10-2 run to close out the stanza and took a 20-15 lead into the second quarter. The visitors extended their lead to as many as nine points early in the second quarter, then extended it further, making it a 33-22 game with 2:42 remaining in the half. However, Birmingham-Southern responded with a 9-2 run over the remainder of the period to cut the Petrel lead to 35-31 at the break.
Up 40-37 with 7:45 remaining, the Petrels embarked on the run that would give them control of the contest. They outscored Birmingham-Southern 17-6 over the next 4:30 to build their largest lead of the contest, a 57-43 advantage with 3:11 left in the quarter. The Petrels were able to keep the Panthers at arm's length the entire fourth quarter, and they cruised to the 9-point victory.
"This was a big-time win with a lot of emotion and a lot of toughness from both teams," said Oglethorpe head coach Alex Richey. "I was super proud of both Karlymarie and Taylor, who played with total confidence and made big shot after big shot. The best part about our team all year has been that we have total confidence in our entire roster, and we know that someone different can step up and make big plays every night. Winning on the road is huge, but we've still got a lot of basketball left to play. We've got a quick turnaround against these same two teams at our place next weekend."
The Petrels will welcome Millsaps to Dorough Field House Friday at 6 p.m., then will take on Birmingham-Southern Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. The following weekend, they'll welcome Hendrix and Rhodes to Atlanta for their final regular season home games of the year.