Stormy Petrels off to 2-0 start with 83-76 win over Piedmont

The Oglethorpe women's basketball team swept the SAA/USA South Classic over the weekend, completing their season-opening pair of contests with an 83-76 victory over the Piedmont Lions Sunday afternoon at Dorough Field House. The Stormy Petrels withstood a Piedmont second-half comeback to hold onto victory down the stretch.

The Petrels got off to a blazing start, outscoring their opponent 9-0 over the opening three minutes of the game. They pushed out to a 17-4 lead with 2:54 remaining in the opening period, but the Lions came back with a 9-1 run over the remainder of the quarter to pull to within five, 18-13, at the close of the first period.

Piedmont continued that stretch early in the second quarter, extending their run to 17-5 and pulling to within a single point, 22-21, with 7:37 left until halftime. The home side completely controlled the rest of the half, though, outscoring Piedmont 16-4 over the final 6:40 of the second quarter and taking a 38-25 advantage into the break.

They extended that advantage to start the third quarter, going on a 10-2 mini-run as part of a 26-8 overall spurt bridging halftime to push out to their largest lead of the contest, 48-29, with 6:40 left in the third quarter. The Lions began to work their way back into the game from there, though, going on a 20-7 run late in the period and cutting the Petrel lead to just 57-50 headed to the fourth quarter.

Foul trouble began to rear its head for Oglethorpe, too, as they committed 12 team fouls in the third quarter alone and 33 for the game in total. By the end of the game, six Petrels had at least four fouls and four fouled out. Piedmont didn't fare much better, committing 26 total fouls and seeing a pair of players foul out.

The game became a war of attrition into the fourth quarter, and Piedmont kept pulling closer, eventually tying the score at 60-60 with 7:31 left. The Petrels reasserted control of the game with nine straight points, though, building a 69-60 edge with 5:40 remaining. They kept the Lions at arm's length the remainder of the game, hanging on for the seven-point win.

Freshman guard Olivia Herrera led the Petrels with 22 points on 7-of-9 from the field, 4-of-6 from three-point range, and six steals. Junior forward Sydni Donovan contributed 16 points off the bench on 7-of-10 from the field, while junior guard Taylor Smith added 15 on 5-of-8 from the field.

The Petrels shot 46.7 percent from the field and held the Lions to 37.5. The visitors outrebounded Oglethorpe 44-33, but Oglethorpe forced five more turnovers than Piedmont (25-20) and enjoyed a 32-22 advantage off of those takeaways. 

"That was a really good win for our program," said Oglethorpe head coach Alex Richey. "We built a comfortable lead and kept our composure when Piedmont battled back. We made some big plays down the stretch. We're going to continue to focus on areas of improvement as we look to get better going forward, but I was pleased with the effort this weekend."

The Petrels will be back in action Friday evening, when they head to Emory, Virginia, to take on Emory and Henry in the Comfort Suites Classic at 6 p.m. They'll finish up their stay at that event on Saturday when they face off against Randolph-Macon at 4 p.m.