The fifth-seeded Oglethorpe women's basketball team rode a 14-point comeback in the second half of their Southern Athletic Association quarterfinal game with fourth-seeded Rhodes to a 73-63 overtime victory Friday afternoon at the alternate tournament site at Homewood High School in Homewood, Alabama. The victory is the program's first in a conference tournament game since the championship game of the 2009 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament and improves the Stormy Petrels to 13-13 on the season.
Down 44-30 with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter, the Petrels began a 22-7 run over the next seven minutes to take a 52-51 lead with 7:35 remaining. They then hung on down the stretch to force overtime and outscored the Lynx 14-4 in the extra frame to secure the victory.
Going into overtime with the game tied at 59-59, the Petrels scored six straight points to build a 64-59 lead with 1:03 remaining. Freshman guard Brooke Simpson sank back-to-back free throws with 58 seconds remaining to push the Oglethorpe lead up to 67-60, then freshman guard Bailey Charles buried four in a row to put the team up 71-61 with 29 seconds remaining and clinch the victory.
The Petrels began their run by outscoring the Lynx 14-4 over the final 4:44 of the third period. They then picked up in the fourth quarter right where they left off at the end of the third, outscoring Rhodes 8-3 to open the fourth and take the 52-51 lead. Rhodes ran off five straight points to build a 56-52 lead back with 4:57 left in regulation, but five consecutive points by Charles and a layup from senior guard Emily Buck pushed Oglethorpe back ahead 59-56 with 3:25 remaining. The Lynx tied the game with 1:46 remaining and the two teams traded defensive stops down the stretch in the fourth to force overtime.
Rhodes pushed out to a 17-11 lead with 2:02 remaining in the first quarter after a 12-3 run. The Lynx led 19-16 after the first quarter, then slowly pushed out to a 32-25 lead at the end of the second. After the Petrels cut the Rhodes lead to 32-29 with 8:19 left, the Lynx pushed the advantage back out with a 12-1 run, building their 44-30 lead with 4:44 remaining.
Charles recorded her first career double-double with a 27-point, 11-rebound performance, converting on 11 of 12 free throws. Freshman forward Lauren Ransom scored 14 points and grabbed 5 rebounds while going 6 for 8 from the free throw line. Buck finished with 15 points on 4-for-4 free throw shooting while grabbing 9 rebounds and passing out 3 assists.
Oglethorpe outshot the Lynx 38-to-27 percent for the game while converting on 68 percent of their free throws. Rhodes converted on 82 percent of their free throw attempts. The Petrels turned the ball over 17 times while forcing 14, but they outscored the Lynx 16-10 off those turnovers. Oglethorpe also outscored Rhodes 29-8 in the paint.
"Throughout the season, whenever we have been down, I have never worried about whether or not we would continue to fight," said Oglethorpe head coach Alex Richey. "We showed that again today and continued to compete. We got a couple of huge performances from Bailey Charles on the offensive end and Nicolette Andrey on the defensive end. I have never been more proud to be a part of Oglethorpe basketball than I am today."
The Petrels will now take on top seeded Birmingham-Southern in the SAA semifinals Saturday at 2 p.m. Eastern in Birmingham, Alabama. The Petrels split the season series with the Panthers, breaking up their undefeated season at Dorough Field House in the first meeting before falling in the rematch in Birmingham.