The Oglethorpe women's basketball team is set to take the floor Saturday to begin their season against in-state opponent LaGrange in the SAA/USA South Classic. The Stormy Petrels are coming off their second straight NCAA tournament appearance and their first victory at the national tournament since 2009. They'll look to follow up on their 23-7 record in 2018-19 with another strong campaign this season.
The Petrels return a couple players from the 2018-19 squad who started 10 or more games. Junior center Savannah LeGate returns off a season in which she garnered All-SAA second team honors. She finished second in the SAA in rebounding (7.8 per game) and first in offensive rebounding (3.3). She also rounded out the season at second in the SAA in blocks, and third in made field goals.
Joining LeGate as a returner will be senior forward Karlymarie Dyer, who averaged 17.8 minutes a game and started 13 contests for the Petrels. She'll be on the shelf with an injury for the first few weeks of the season, but should return soon.
Also returning for the Petrels will be sophomore guard Nikki Reed and senior guard Sydney Long. Reed averaged 5.4 points and 1.2 steals per game and started in nine games for Oglethorpe down the stretch, while Long started five games for Oglethorpe and figured in as a valuable bench piece for the Petrels with 14.5 minutes per game.
Junior forward Audrey Burdge figured prominently off the bench for the Petrels in 2018-19, averaging 14.1 minutes per game. Senior guard Morgan Grindle had a big role off the bench, as well. Both of those players will be back for Oglethorpe, as will junior forward Hayden Neal, sophomore forward Maya Inman, sophomore guard Sydnee Jackson and sophomore swing player Katie Williamson.
The Petrels bring in a couple of transfers to their roster for the 2019-20 season, as junior forward Sydni Donovan enters the squad from Division I Furman and junior guard Taylor Smith does so from Division II Nova Southeastern. Those two will join a list of Oglethorpe freshmen that includes guards Debra Buggs, Reyna Buggs, Olivia Herrera, Daesha McAdams and Amy Vazquez.
Oglethorpe enters the season as the No. 19 team in the preseason coaches' poll. They'll begin with games against LaGrange and Piedmont in the SAA/USA South Classic, then head to Emory and Henry for their classic, where they'll take on the host Wasps and Randolph-Macon on Nov. 15 and 16. They'll head up to Danville, Kentucky, the following weekend for Centre's Lee's Famous Recipe/Hampton Inn Classic, where they'll go against Maryville (Tennessee) and Otterbein. The Petrels then return home on Nov. 26 to host Covenant, then take on crosstown rival Emory on Dec. 3. The Petrels host LeTourneau and Belhaven in their own TownePlace Suites by Marriott Classic at Dorough Field House Dec. 16 and 17, then host Bridgewater (Virginia) on Dec. 29 to round out 2019.
The Petrels open their SAA slate against in-state rival Berry on Dec. 7 and start 2020 at home, as well, going up against Hendrix and defending SAA champion Rhodes on Jan. 3 and 5, respectively. They'll host Millsaps and Birmingham-Southern Jan. 17 and 19, and Sewanee and Centre Feb. 7 and 9. The Petrels take on Rhodes in Memphis, Tennessee, on Feb. 2.
Oglethorpe takes on LaGrange Saturday at 5 p.m. and goes against Piedmont Sunday at 4 p.m. as they look to get their season off on the right foot at the SAA/USA South Classic.