Women's basketball dances on to sectionals for first time in 11 years, beats Randolph-Macon 71-63 in second round

Women's basketball dances on to sectionals for first time in 11 years, beats Randolph-Macon 71-63 in second round

The Oglethorpe women's basketball team extended their season by at least another weekend Saturday evening, knocking off the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets 71-63 in Lexington, Kentucky, to advance to the sectional round of the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship for the first time since 2009 and bump their record to 29-1. The Stormy Petrels also extended their program-best winning streak to 27 games.

Just as they did Friday against William Peace, the Petrels saw the opponent turn what had been an arm's-length Oglethorpe lead into a tight game early in the fourth quarter. Randolph-Macon pulled to within a point at the 9:47 mark of the fourth quarter, 53-52. However, the Petrels responded just like on Friday, going on a 12-1 run over 3:45 to build a 65-53 lead with 6 minutes remaining. The two teams traded baskets much the rest of the way from there, and the Yellow Jackets were unable to dent the Oglethorpe lead. Senior center Savannah LeGate scored off an assist from freshman guard Olivia Herrera with 4:10 left to put Oglethorpe back up by 12 points, 69-57. The Petrels locked down defensively from there and neither team was able to score again until the 1:30 mark when Randolph-Macon cut it to a 10-point game. It was too late at that point, as Oglethorpe made a couple free throws down the stretch to ice the game.

The Petrels led 38-32 at halftime and pushed the lead out a bit early in the third quarter. They led 51-38 with just under 3 minutes left in the period and appeared to be in control. However, Randolph-Macon went on a 12-2 run to end the quarter, cutting the Oglethorpe advantage to 53-50. The Yellow Jackets extended that run to 14-2 when they sank the first basket of the fourth quarter.

After a tight game early in which the Yellow Jackets led by as many 3 points, the Petrels built a lead late in the period. They held a 19-14 edge at the quarter break and extended their advantage to 11 points, 27-16, early in the second. They used a 12-2 run bridged from the final couple minutes of the first quarter to the 7:35 mark of the second. From there, Oglethorpe was able to keep them at arm's length for much of the rest of the half. The Yellow Jackets fought back to within 6 points late in the half.

The Petrels once again got outstanding performances from sophomore guard Nikki Reed and LeGate. Reed scored 22 points, passed out seven assists and made four steals while sinking 6 of 7 free throws. LeGate recorded another double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 boards for the Petrels while shooting at a 7-for-12 clip. 

Oglethorpe shot 42.2 percent from the field while holding Randolph-Macon to 37.5 percent. They forced 19 turnovers and outscored the Yellow Jackets 42-28 in the paint. The Petrels also outscored their opponent 16-4 off the fast break. 

The 11th-ranked Petrels will take on Whitman, currently ranked No. 10 in the nation, Friday in the round of 16 at a site to be determined.