After an impressive five-game winning streak, the Mercer women’s basketball team looked to add three more wins to their record when they played on the road against Lipscomb and Northern Kentucky and then at home against Kennesaw St.
Starting off in Nashville, Tenn., Precious Bridges lead the Bears with a career-high of 36 points to defeat the Bison 74-70 on Friday, Jan. 26 at Allen Arena.
Bridges’ 36 points are the most scored by any player in the Atlantic Sun Conference this season and the most scored by an A-Sun player in a single-game since then sophomore Briana Williams netted 39 at Kennesaw State on Feb. 12, 2012.
For the most of the first half, the Bears held the lead, but Lipscomb never quit fighting. With 6:36 remaining in the stanza, the Bison tied up the game at 22-22.
Battling back and forth, the teams exchanged the lead twice before Bridges netted a long jumper with just seconds remaining to make the halftime score 34-34.
For the first part of the second half, the Bison stayed on top. Although the competition was tight, Lipscomb was able to jump out in front 47-40 with 13:20 left in the game.
After four straight scoring possessions, Mercer was able to fight back and bring the Bison’s lead down to just three with a driving lay-up by sophomore Alicia Williams, making the score 53-50.
Finally, the Bears were able to take the lead again, but that didn’t last long. Lipscomb came right back with back-to-back three pointers, setting the score at 62-57 with 6:27 remaining in the game.
Williams put up five straight points for the Bears to give them a chance to win. With only one minute left in the game, the score was 68-68.
From there, Grant took over offensively draining jumpers in the Bears’ next two possessions, the second putting Mercer up 72-70 with a mere 11 seconds left in the game.
In the successful comeback for the Bears, Williams finished with a season-high 17 points while sophomore Teanna Robinson grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds.
To continue their impressive six game win streak, Mercer added one more to the board in a 77-67 road victory over Northern Kentucky on Monday, Jan. 28 at the Bank of Kentucky Center. Three of the Bears placed double figures in the winning effort.
Bridges lead the team with 20 points in the win, including 16 in the second half, to extend her personal streak of 20 or more points up to six-straight contests.
Grant poured in 19 points while Williams chipped in with 14 points to help the Orange and Black defeat the Norse.
For the first 10 minutes of the game, Northern Kentucky controlled the pace of play. The score was 12-8 with 10:30 left in the half.
Mercer fought back and took the lead 17-12 with 9:25 left in the first half after 9-0 run capped by a jumper by sophomore Tabitha Bradshaw.
The Orange and Black continued to fight offensively, using four points by Williams at the end of the half to go into the locker room with a score of 32-35.
To start up the second half, Grant single-handedly widened the Bears’ lead by scoring 10 points in the first four minutes of play making the score 42-30 with 16:35 remaining in the contest.
However, with 5:10 left in the game, the Norse were able to pull within six at a 59-53 score.
From there, the Orange and Black proved to be too much by dominating offensively and hitting clutch free throws to secure the win.
Junior Sharnea Boykin had 10 assists compared to just one turnover while Robinson had seven rebounds and four blocks in the win.
Finally after a two road games, the Bears were back in action on their home court. On Saturday, Feb. 2, Mercer used their tough defense to defeat in-state rival Kennesaw State in a 57-36 match up.
With this win, Mercer has now won eight in a row, making this the longest winning streak since the program turned Division I in the 2002-03 season. The eight-straight wins are the most consecutive victories for Mercer since ripping off 14 in a row as a Division II member in 1984-85.
Mercer held Kennesaw State to 36 points on 30 percent shooting from the field. Ironically, it’s the first time the Bears have held an opponent to under 40 points in a game since downing the Owls 60-38 in January of 2010
Bradshaw lead the team with 12 points, while classmate Williams threw up 10 points and six rebounds.
With 4:25 remaining in the first period, the Owls were on top, 18-13. It took longer than usual for Mercer to begin firing on all cylinders, but finally, with a 13-4 run capped by a Bradshaw three-pointer, the Bears went to the locker room with a 26-22 halftime lead.
For almost the entire first five minutes of the second stanza, Mercer’s defense was able to hold Kennesaw State to zero points. Along with their remarkable defense, the Bears’ offense went on a 10 point run to make the score 36-22.
From that point on, Mercer’s lead continued to expand. The Bears ended the game with a comfortable lead of 21 points.
In the contest, the Orange and Black recorded a season-high 12 blocks while holding a decisive 32-0 advantage in bench points.
On Feb. 9, Mercer will continue its three-game homestand when the North Florida Ospreys come to town. The game is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Hawkins Arena.