The Oglethorpe women's basketball team won a tight, back-and-forth contest in the first round of the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship Friday evening, advancing to the second round for the first time since 2019. The Stormy Petrels knocked off the No. 23 Chicago Maroons 57-51 at the Clive M. Beck Center in Lexington, Kentucky, improving to 23-6 on the season.
The Petrels outscored Chicago 19-13 in the fourth quarter and pulled away late after a game which featured 17 lead changes and 11 ties. The Maroons led by as many as five in the third quarter and four with three minutes to go in the game, but Oglethorpe fought back to secure the postseason victory.
Chicago extended their lead back out to four points with three minutes remaining in the game, but junior forward Karlymarie Dyer nailed the first of two gigantic threes down the stretch with 2:42 remaining, cutting it to a one-point game, 50-49. A free throw put the Maroons back up by two, but Dyer answered with the second of her huge threes to give Oglethorpe a 52-51 lead with just 1:40 left in the contest. The teams traded misses for the next minute or so, but Oglethorpe freshman guard Nikki Reed got fouled with 32 seconds to go and hit both free throws to give the Petrels a 54-51 edge. Oglethorpe forced a missed shot at the other end and Dyer grabbed the board with 11 seconds on the clock. She made both free throws to make it 56-51. A missed 3-pointer and a rebound by senior forward Lauren Ransom with four seconds remaining secured the win.
Oglethorpe led 24-23 at halftime, but Chicago began the half on a 6-0 run and took their largest lead of the game, 29-24, with 8:20 remaining in the game. Oglethorpe fought back to take the lead on a jump shot from sophomore center Savannah LeGate at the 5:19 mark of the quarter, edging ahead 30-29. The teams went back and forth from there for the remainder of the period and wound up the third quarter tied 38-38.
The Maroons pushed back out to a five-point lead early in the fourth, using a 5-0 run to take a 43-38 lead with 8:40 remaining. Reed went on a six-point run all by herself, though. Oglethorpe picked up a couple of steals during the stretch, one of them from Reed herself, and the Petrels suddenly had a 44-43 lead with seven minutes remaining. The teams traded baskets for a brief period, but Chicago pulled back ahead 50-46 with three minutes left after scoring five straight points over 1:18.
Dyer led the way for the Petrels with 14 points on 4-of-6 from 3-point range. LeGate scored 12 points and grabbed 10 boards while converting on 4-of-8 from the field. She also collected five blocks. Senior guard Bailey Charles led the team with four assists, scoring eight points as well.
The Petrels shot 37.3 percent from the field overall and were 6-of-16 from 3-point range. They also shot 65 percent from the free-throw line. Meanwhile, the Petrels held Chicago to just 31.4 percent from the field and 5-of-22 from 3-point range. Oglethorpe outscored Chicago 21-7 off the bench.
Oglethorpe will now take on No. 18 Transylvania, the host of the four-team pod, Saturday evening at 5 p.m. from the Beck Center in the second round of the NCAA tournament.