The top-seeded Oglethorpe women's basketball team defeated the No. 4 seed Berry Vikings 75-54 in the SAA Tournament semifinals Saturday evening at Dorough Field House, advancing to the SAA Tournament championship game for the first time in their history and to a conference championship game for the first time since 2009. The victory also improved the squad to 20-7 on the season, giving the Petrels 20 wins in a season for the first time since 2009, as well.
Less than 24 hours after winning their first-round game, the Petrels returned and looked even better on Saturday against a Berry team that beat them a week earlier. The Petrels shot 46 percent from the field for the game and sank 53 percent of their 3-pointers while holding the Vikings to 25 percent from the field overall and 18 percent from long distance. Oglethorpe also outrebounded the Vikings 51-42 while outscoring them 11-2 off the fast break and 25-11 off the bench.
Freshman center Savannah LeGate once again led the team with 12 points and 10 rebounds, recording her 18th double-double of the season. She was 6-of-9 from the field, passed out three assists, and blocked three shots. Sophomore forward Karlymarie Dyer scored eight points and grabbed seven boards while adding a couple of steals. Junior guard Bailey Charles chipped in nine points and passed out a game-high five assists. Sophomore guard Taylor Dodson led the Petrels with 13 points on 3-of-6 from long distance.
The Vikings took their only lead of the game at 5-3 just over two minutes into the game and still had the game tied at 9-9 with five minutes remaining in the opening quarter. Oglethorpe outscored Berry 8-2 over the remainder of the period to take a 17-11 edge into the second. The second quarter proved decisive, as the Petrels outscored Berry 18-7 overall for the period. The outscored the visitors 12-1 over the opening 5:30 of the period en route to a 35-18 lead at the break.
Berry made it as close as a 12-point game with 5:16 remaining in the third, but the home side quickly pushed it back out with a 12-2 run over the next three minutes to push their lead out to 22 points, 51-29, with 2:20 left in the third. Oglethorpe led 55-36 headed to the fourth, and the Vikings never got close after that, trailing by as many as 24 points en route to the 21-point defeat.
"We played a great game," said Oglethorpe head coach Alex Richey. "We made some defensive adjustments today in shootaround and our group bought into the strategy and executed it to perfection. I love to see the total team effort we put forth on offense today with the balanced scoring that we showed. Tomorrow is going to be a great game between two great teams, and we are looking forward to the challenge."
The Petrels will take on the third-seeded Warriors Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. in the SAA Tournament championship game at Dorough Field House. The winner will receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.