The Oglethorpe women's basketball team got off to as good a start as it could've hoped for Saturday afternoon in Lookout Mountain, Ga., where the Stormy Petrels defeated Covenant, 59-46, to start the new season 1-0. The Petrels led for the vast majority of the contest, as the game featured just one tie and two lead changes.
The Petrels got a very good season-opening performance from 2013-14 All-SAA Honorable Mention designee Ciaira Hughes, as the sophomore forward collected 17 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks. Meanwhile, junior guard Emily Buck also had a very good night, accuring nine points, five assists and two steals. Freshman guard Katie Stewart had 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting off the bench, while junior guard Kristen Kennebrew recorded nine points and three steals in her Ogelthorpe debut.
The game immediately started off very well for the Petrels, as they jumped to a 7-0 lead over the first three minutes. The home-standing Scots fought back with eight straight of their own to take their only lead of the game, 8-7. Oglethorpe again ran off seven straight and, after another Covenant burst to get to within one, the Petrels collected themselves and made an eight-point push, highlighted by back-to-back threes from Stewart. The Petrels led, 30-21, with 1:15 left in the half. A couple of Covenant baskets made the score 30-25 at the break. All nine of Kennebrew's points came in the first half on 4-of-8 shooting. All three of her steals came in the period, as well.
In the second half, Oglethorpe began to pull away, starting with a 10-0 run at the outset. The Petrels held a 40-25 lead with 17:35 left at the conclusion of the spurt. Covenant was able to cut that lead back down to 10 points, 42-32, with 13:47 remaning, but that's as close as they'd get for the remainder of the contest. The Petrels immediately followed with a 9-2 run to take a 51-34 lead with 9:08 remaing. After a couple of Scots baskets, the Petrels again ran off six straight points to take their largest lead of the game, 57-38, with 4:08 left. The team was able to cruise home from there and, despite an 8-2 closing run by the Scots, the Petrels were never really threatened at the end as they secured the 13-point, season-opening victory.
It was the first career coaching victory for Alex Richey, Oglethorpe's new head coach. Afterward, he was excited about the win, saying, "It's nice for the team to get that first game and first win out of the way. We learned a lot about ourselves and where we can improve going forward. I think the upcoming Emory matchup will be a good measuring stick for where we are."
He continued, "Hughes had a monster game, but she's just starting to realize her potential. Stewart gave us a nice spark tonight and I hope that gives her increased confidence going forward. Kennebrew was solid on both ends of the floor for us tonight, as well."
The aforementioned matchup with Oglethorpe's crosstown rivals will take place at Emory's Druid Hills campus on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. The following day, Oglethorpe will come back to Dorough Field House for their home opener against Agnes Scott at 7 p.m.