Thursday night was Valentine’s Day, and the Mercer Bears had a date with the Spartans of UNC-Greensboro.
The long story short? It didn’t exactly work out, and the feeling was pretty mutual.
The Bears (17-7, 9-0) and Spartans traded blows from the game’s opening tip, but it was UNCG who got up on Mercer early. At the end of the first quarter, the Bears found themselves trailing 28-19, their largest first-quarter deficit in SoCon play.
The second quarter was more of the same, as both teams scored 18 points to enter the halftime locker room with UNC-Greensboro (9-16, 3-7) up 46-37 over the Bears.
The second half couldn’t have been more different. Mercer came out firing on all cylinders, led by seniors Linnea Rosendal and Rachel Selph who combined for 45 points on 16-of-20 shooting.
Mercer dominated the second and third quarters, outscoring the Spartans 48-27 over the game’s final 20 minutes. When all was said and done, Mercer had pulled away to a commanding 85-73 victory.
(1) Have your Selph a night, Rachel
The senior center had a huge game for the Bears. She scored 21 points on an incredible 8-of-10 shooting. She also pulled down six rebounds and swatted away three blocks. In a game where Amanda Thompson and KeKe Calloway struggled to score the ball, her big night was huge in a close game like this one was.
(2) Rosendal can do it all
Another Bears player had a huge night on Thursday, and that player was Linnea Rosendal. The senior sharpshooter scored a career-high 23 points on 5-of-5 from beyond the arc. As if that wasn’t enough, she also pulled down two boards and dished out four assists. Like Selph, her ability to score the ball was a huge part of her team’s victory.
(3) This team needed a win like this
In nearly every game this season, either KeKe Calloway or Amanda Thompson has led the Bears in scoring. On Thursday night, both scored under 10 points which forced other players to step up to the plate. And they did. Rosendal, Selph and Shannon Titus all scored over 20 points and Tia Benvenuti dished out a career-high nine assists. Big contributions across the board from Mercer’s traditional role players.
Player of the Game: Rachel Selph (No. 34)
Selph shot 8-of-10 from the floor and scored 21 points, the most she’s scored since Nov. 11, 2018 vs Bowling Green
The senior center dominated the paint, pulling down six rebounds and converting at a 5-for-6 clip at the free throw line
Selph also swatted away a season-high three blocks, protecting the paint all night long
(1) Rosendall on career-night shooting the ball:
“I got a couple of open shots in the beginning, which got me going and then Tia (Benvenuti) did a great job finding me on offense. My teammates were working hard on offense to get me open and get me open shots. I was feeling good. I was in rhythm the whole night.”
(2) Selph talks about her domination:
“UNCG has some really good post players, so to go against them and to finish in the paint like that — I thought it was a really good night for me because they are really good post players.”
(3) Gardner on Rosendal, Selph and Benvenuti stepping up:
“Teams are focusing in, as they should be, on Amanda (Thompson) and Keke (Calloway) because of what they’ve been doing all year. We’re fortunate that we have other players that have offensive skills, and we’re fortunate that tonight those guys were hitting shots.”