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Women's basketball falls to Auburn on historic homecoming night

Garret McDowell

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The Mercer women’s basketball team played in front of a nearly packed house, but they were unable to overcome the strong Auburn Tigers. The Bears were outrebounded almost two to one, and these second chance points were a major reason the Bears could not pull off the upset. This was the highest attended women’s basketball game in University Center history, with 2,728 people in attendance. That was almost double the previous record, set in January 2011 against North Florida. However, the energy of the large crowd was not enough to sustain the Bears.
Mercer did not score for the first four minutes of the game, the Tigers led by as many as 20 points before going into halftime up by 17. An opening 12-0 run crushed Mercer’s chances of upsetting this Southeastern Conference foe. While last year Mercer was able to put points on the board early, none of the Bears could break through the stifling defense for a while. Precious Bridges finally got through for the Bears’ first six points.
The Bears were unable to close the gap to 14 points, but the second half would prove to be even less successful for the Bears. Immediately following this closing of the gap, Auburn’s Tyrese Tanner, who scored a game-high 14 points, had six transition points as part of an eight-point swing that put the game out of reach. Tanner added three assists and two steals. Two other Auburn players finished in double figures: Hasina Muhammad with 12 and Blanche Alverson with 12 off the bench. Alverson had a double-double with 10 rebounds as well, the first of her career. Morgan Jennings performed well with six rebounds, eight assists and six points.
As for Mercer players who performed well, none were in double digits for scoring. Briana Williams and Alicia Williams each had nine points. Sharnea Boykin added two rebounds, four assists and four steals. Sharmesia Smith had six rebounds. Nine bears had at least 10 minutes on the court, and seven of them had 18 or more.
Mercer shot just 27.3 percent from the field, less than half of Auburn’s 55.4 percent. The Bears were also just 56.2 percent from the charity stripe as opposed to Auburn being 62.5 percent. The Bears cannot continue to give up easy points if they want to challenge for the Atlantic Sun title this year.
“[It took] a really good effort tonight to come into Mercer, to a packed house on their homecoming and get the win,” said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner, when speaking to the Auburn Bears’ athletics website. Meanwhile, Mercer coach Susie Gardner was very upset about her team’s second half performance: “We came out of the locker room flat. We need to work on this.”
This was the fourth straight time the Mercer Bears have lost their season opener. However, this was the 33rd straight victory for Auburn to start a season. Auburn was recently picked to finish ninth in the Southeastern Conference.
When looking at positives from the Mercer side, Coach Gardner said. “The one positive we could take from this game was the 2,728 people in the stands. It was definitely the most exciting game I’ve been a part of here at Mercer.”

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Women's basketball falls to Auburn on historic homecoming night