Mercer Cluster

Women’s basketball cruises into SoCon Semifinals

Keke+Calloway+shoots+against+Western+Carolina+defender.+
Keke Calloway shoots against Western Carolina defender.

Keke Calloway shoots against Western Carolina defender.

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Hayes Rule

Keke Calloway shoots against Western Carolina defender.

Christian Hartley, Staff Writer

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The Mercer Women’s basketball team kicked off the 2018 SoCon Tournament with a 75-44 trouncing of No. 8 seed Western Carolina, tying a SoCon record in the process. The Bears won their 25th consecutive game, which tied Chattanooga for the most consecutive wins in conference history.

The Bears started the game hot from the floor, and finished it that way. After jumping out to a 3-0 lead early, the Bears never looked back, leading from start to finish.

This is a Western Carolina ball club who took these same Bears deep into the fourth quarter just two weeks prior, with Mercer edging out a seven point victory at home. The Catamounts have given several of the conference’s top teams a run for their money on multiple occasions.

Junior guard Keke Calloway got the game started off on the right foot for the Bears, hitting two 3-pointers in the opening minutes of action, as the Bears led 10-4. At the end of the first quarter, Mercer had stretched its lead to 20-11.

The second period was a slow one for both teams, with the Bears outscoring the Catamounts 13-7 to stretch their lead to 33-18 going into halftime. Despite being up 15 points, the Bears showed no signs of being satisfied.

The Bears dominated the third quarter of play, outscoring the Catamounts 22-11. Mercer rolled into the final period of action leading by 26 points, allowing some of its key players to get some rest in preparation for the next round.

Three-time SoCon Player of the Year and Mercer senior guard Kahlia Lawrence lived up to the award, scoring 23 points on an efficient 11-of-17 from the floor. She was one of the players that Mercer was able to relieve in the fourth quarter, allowing the team’s leading scorer to get some well-deserved rest.

The Bears not only started the game strong, but they finished it strong, winning the final quarter by a 20-15 margin. When the final buzzer rang, it was the Bears in command of a 31 point victory.

As a team, the Bears shot the ball 44 percent from the floor. The story of the night was the Bears defense, who held the Catamounts to just 16-of-42 shooting, including just 5-of-17 from beyond the arc. Mercer forced Western Carolina into 24 turnovers and converted them into 28 points, while commiting just two themselves.

Calloway contributed 18 points, including three 3-pointers. After dishing out seven assists on Thursday, Bears point guard Sydni Means moved into second place all-time for assists in SoCon history.

The Bears move on to the Tournament Semifinals, and will face No. 5 seed Samford Friday morning at 11am  (ET). The Bears bested Samford twice this year, with the most recent matchup being the Bears closest game of the season, 48-45. The Bulldogs will be ready to give the Bears their best shot, looking to avoid a 3-0 sweep on the year.

The game will air live on WatchESPN (ESPN3), or you can tune in live to Mercer Sports Radio Network for live radio coverage from Mercer’s own Rick Cameron!

 

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Women’s basketball cruises into SoCon Semifinals