Women's Basketball Vaults into Sole Possession of First Place in SAA with 53-44 Win over Centre

Women's Basketball Vaults into Sole Possession of First Place in SAA with 53-44 Win over Centre
On Sunday afternoon, the Oglethorpe women's basketball team welcomed their SAA rival Centre to Dorough Field House in a battle between a pair of first-place teams in the league. The Stormy Petrels entered halftime down 28-25, but they would quickly respond, outscoring the visiting Colonels 16-8 in the third quarter. The Colonels were able to tie the score up halfway through the fourth quarter, but the Petrels refused to allow the Centre to score for the final 5 minutes of play. The remarkable defense down the stretch allowed the Petrels to hold on for the 53-44 win. The result puts them at 11-5 on the season and 4-1 in the SAA, vaulting them into first place by themselves after Centre, Hendrix and Rhodes all lost on the day.
The Petrels needed help from their bench in order to help secure the victory. Both of Oglethorpe's top scorers came off the bench, including junior guard Brooke Simpson and freshman forward Audrey Burdge. Simpson earned 10 points, four rebounds and four steals. Burdge led her team with 12 points and also recorded four rebounds. Additionally, freshman forward Savannah LeGate scored seven points and led her team with nine boards. 
The Petrels struggled to keep up with the Colonels early in the first quarter. The visitors were able to create a 15-6 advantage in the first five minutes of play. However, the Petrels were able to turn it around by outscoring the Colonels 10-3 for the remainder of the first period. Nevertheless, the period ended with Centre up 19-16. 
The Colonels began to extend their lead to as many as 10 points in the opening minutes of the second quarter. The Petrels trailed 26-16, but the Colonels' large lead wouldn't last long, as the Petrels went on a 9-0 run to put the score at 26-25 with 2:12 to go before halftime. The Petrels wouldn't score for the rest of the half and only allowed the Colonels to make one jump shot in those final minutes. Both teams would finish the second quarter scoring nine points for the period, but the Colonels were on top 28-25 at halftime.
The third period is where the Petrels shined by forcing seven turnovers. The Petrels gained the lead within the first minute of the third quarter. This required the Colonels to battle from behind for first the time all game. They were able to tie it up at 33-33 with 4:15 left in the third period, but the Petrels pulled away a bit in the final minute of the quarter with an 8-2 run, putting the score at 41-36.  The Petrels doubled the Colonels' points in the third quarter, outscoring them 16-8. 
In the final quarter of play, the Colonels continued their fight back and were able to tie the game up once again, 44-44, with 5:11 left. From that point on, the Petrels shut down the Colonels' offense by not allowing a basket and forcing six turnovers in the final five minutes of play. The Petrels, on the other hand, scored nine points. 
The Petrels ended the game with 26 forced turnovers, having committed just 12 themselves. They outscored Centre 20-9 off those turnovers. 
"Our defense was the story all weekend," said Oglethorpe head coach Alex Richey. "We got huge stops when we needed them after we made some first-quarter adjustments. This team is really starting to figure it out on that end of the floor. Audrey and Brooke stepped up scoring in the second half to give us a big-time boost and it was awesome to watch our team supporting each other all weekend. I couldn't be more proud of this group, but we have a lot of basketball left and just have to keep growing each time out."
The Petrels will travel Jackson, Mississippi, to face SAA opponent Millisaps on Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern.  Following that SAA matchup, the Petrels will travel to Birmingham, Alabama, to face another SAA rival, Birmingham-Southern, Sunday at 2 p.m.