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Mercer women’s basketball just keeps on winning

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Mercer women’s basketball just keeps on winning

Bears guard KeKe Calloway sizes up the ETSU defender in a January 26 game at Hawkins Arena. Photo by Christian Hartley.

Bears guard KeKe Calloway sizes up the ETSU defender in a January 26 game at Hawkins Arena. Photo by Christian Hartley.

Bears guard KeKe Calloway sizes up the ETSU defender in a January 26 game at Hawkins Arena. Photo by Christian Hartley.

Bears guard KeKe Calloway sizes up the ETSU defender in a January 26 game at Hawkins Arena. Photo by Christian Hartley.

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When you are the top team in your conference, you play each game with a giant target on your back. You are the prey and your opponents are the predators.

Mercer women’s basketball (14-7, 6-0 SoCon) found that out quickly on the road at Wofford, their first of two road games for the weekend. The Terriers (10-11, 2-4 SoCon) took the Bears down to the wire, but a last-second layup by Mercer’s Shannon Titus lifted the Bears to an 81-79 victory.

Next up, a trip to Greenville, South Carolina for a matchup with the third-place Furman Paladins.

The Paladins got out to the hot start early, leading Mercer for nearly the entire first half. However, a game-tying 3-pointer by Amoria Neal-Tysor as time expired in the first half sent the Bears into halftime with all the momentum.

The second half was all Mercer, who used a 10-0 start at the half to propel them to an impressive 75-60 road victory.

Quick Takes

(1) Amanda Thompson can do it all

We knew going into Thursday’s matchup with Wofford, and Saturday’s with Furman, that Amanda Thompson could score and pull down rebounds with the best of them. What we didn’t know was that Thompson can dish the ball, too. The senior forward dished out four assists against the Terriers and five versus the Paladins. During the two-game stretch, Thompson averaged 20 points, 13.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and a steal. Those are truly unreal numbers from Thompson.

(2) Titus is going to be a problem for the SoCon

As noted in the past few articles, Shannon Titus has been playing exceptionally well. That didn’t change this weekend. Over the two-game stretch, the sophomore averaged 16.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and, perhaps most impressive, two steals and two blocks. Head coach Susie Gardner called on someone to step up earlier this season — Titus answered the call.

(3) Close games are a good thing

This season, and last, has shown us that the talent-level gap between Mercer and the rest of the Southern Conference is quite significant. This team needs a few close games to test their limits, and ultimately keep them humble and focused. If the Bears can keep their heads on straight, and stay focused on what’s in front of them, the season will reap heavy rewards.

Player of the Trip: Amanda Thompson (No. 2)

  • During the two-game road trip, Thompson averaged 20 points, 13.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and one steal
  • Thompson proved that she can facilitate the ball, totaling nine assists during the two-game stretch
  • The senior forward secured her 12th and 13th double-doubles of the season

Notable Quotables

(1) Gardner talks about the play of Thompson and Titus after the Wofford game…

“Amanda played another near-flawless game finishing 8-for-11 from the floor and eight offensive rebounds and eight defensives. She played at another level tonight. Shannon played well tonight too. She was tasked with guarding Chloe Wanink, the leading scorer in the conference and did a really good job against her.”

(2) Gardner on Titus’ game-winning shot to beat Wofford…

“Without going into much detail, we knew how Wofford had been defending us all night so we drew up a counter. We put the ball in Shannon’s hands and she went strong to the glass and had a hard layup to put us ahead by two. We were fortunate to have eight seconds on the clock to draw up a play we were comfortable with.”

(3) Gardner on finishing the game strong after slow start at Furman…

“It was a hard-fought win on the road and I’m proud of our team for a collectively strong effort. It was a tough first half. We got off to a slow start and were not hitting enough shots. But we responded really well in the third quarter with some defensive intensity.”

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Mercer women’s basketball just keeps on winning