Lady Bears start high, end low over winter break


While other students were resting at home anxiously awaiting their final grades to be posted, or rejoicing another semester of college completed, the Mercer women’s basketball team was not resting on their laurels as they had many important games to prepare for and play. Playing eight games while everyone else was away was a difficult task to overcome. Although crowds would be small, and it would be tough for the team to be away from family for most of the holidays, they knew they had a job to do and knew that this is what they signed up for.
First up for the Lady Bears was the Troy State University Trojans. In a highly contested match that ventured into overtime, the Lady bears came out on top, victorious in a well-deserved 69-59 win. In this game, the name on everyone’s lips was Briana Williams! The sophomore sensation finished with a team-leading 27 points and an impressive seven rebounds. Also coming up big in the victory were Alicia Williams and Ry’van Buchanan who finished the game with 13 and 10 points respectively. Junior Sharmesia Smith came just short of a double-double effort with 10 rebounds and nine points.
Next up for Mercer was an away match-up with a competitive UNC Asheville opponent. The game ended with the victor prevailing by only a one-point margin. Unfortunately for the away team, this margin was not on their side. The Lady Bears ended up losing 76-75. Both Briana Williams and Alicia Williams had stellar performances for their team combining for 44 points between the two. Briana Williams led the team with 23 points, followed by teammate Alicia Williams’ astounding 21 points. Sharmesia Smith was able to pull down nine rebounds in the losing effort. Coach Susie Gardner weighed in on the match. “The game shouldn’t have come to a last second play,” Mercer head coach Susie Gardner said. “We were up early but after we got down, we fought back.  This was another learning experience. We continue to learn the hard way,” she added.
Coach Gardner’s squad hit the court twice more before the big conference stretch started, losing to both Winthrop and a highly touted Notre Dame squad 88-74 and 128-42 respectively. The team looked to take their current losing streak and turn it into fuel for the fire as they headed towards their most important stretch of the season, conference play.
The first pair of games for Gardner and the Lady Bears was against Florida Gulf Coast and Stetson at home. Unfortunately, the Lady Bears dropped both contests losing to Florida Gulf Coast 98-50 and Stetson by a close margin of 89-84.
In their final two matches before the break for the holidays was over as students ventured back to Mercer’s campus for the second semester, Coach Gardner looked to lead her team to victory. Unfortunately, the Lady Bears dropped the two contests, losing to ETSU 72-46 and USC Upstate 77-56.
With conference tournament dreams on the line, Coach Gardner looks to fine tune some of the problem areas and make a run late for the season for a chance for our Lady Bears to hoist the trophy high over their heads.
Coming out of a tough stretch of winter break games, the Lady Bears fell to 3-14. After winning the overtime game against Troy, Gardner’s squad dropped seven in-a-row.