Gardner's bunch competing until season's end


After ending the 13-game losing streak, the Mercer Bears’ Women’s Basketball team looked to three games on the road that would either let them win their way back into postseason contention or fade back away into the cellar of the Atlantic Sun conference standings. Unfortunately, the Bears were unable to consistently score points when needed, dropping games against Kennesaw State and Jacksonville by single digits and a blowout loss to North Florida as well. The Mercer Bears are now 4-23 overall, with a 2-14 record in conference play, eliminating them from postseason contention. Mercer will finish up the 2011-2012 season with a pair of home games against Lipscomb on Thursday, Feb. 23 and Belmont on Saturday, Feb. 25.


KSU 70, Mercer 68

Just one week after setting the new single game record for points in a game by a Mercer Bears’ Women’s Basketball player, sophomore Briana Williams dropped 39 points on the Kennesaw State Owls, but it would prove to be futile as the Bears were unable to convert a late shot into a victory. The Owls won due despite turning the ball over 10 more times than the Bears. Sharmesia Smith scored 10 points in the first half, and Alex Phillips added five more.

The Bears led by as many as five in the second half, but a furious rally evened it up with five minutes left. The game was tied at 12 different points, and the teams exchanged the lead a remarkable 13 times. Kennesaw State dominated the paint, outscoring the Bears 38-16 down low.


UNF 66, Mercer 49

The first game of their final road trip of the season was not to be good for Mercer, as a poor performance down the stretch saw a winnable game become a rout for the North Florida Ospreys.

After being tied at 41, the Bears went on a cold streak. Briana Williams shot just 10 percent from the floor, leaving the Bears needing other offensive weapons. Alicia Williams had 12 points to lead the team and Jasmine Blakemore added 10. North Florida’s Raneisha Lamar had a double-double to inspire the team on their home court. She scored 14 points and collected 13 rebounds.

Just as in the Kennesaw game, the Bears committed fewer turnovers than their opponents yet were unable to turn that advantage into more points. The 25-8 run to end the game will go down as a place where the Bears must focus on what went wrong.


Jacksonville 84, Mercer 78

Once again, the Bears are unable to finish strong, being outscored significantly over the ending minutes of the game. Despite leading in the second half, the Bears dropped the ball. Briana Williams scored 31, her fourth time this season that she has eclipsed the 30-point mark. However, she turned the ball over five times, which is the third time that has happened this season. Sharmesia Smith missed a double-double by a basket, finishing with eight points and 11 boards.

Jacksonville did enjoy a bevy of free throws, shooting 40 times from the stripe, compared to just 15 for Mercer.

In terms of standing within the Atlantic Sun, Briana Williams is just 12 points from 1,000 for her career, and she is just a sophomore. She is currently seventh in the conference for total points in her career, but she is first in points per game this season at 17.3. That also means she is tied for 48th in the nation in scoring. Ry’van Buchanan is scoring 9.5 points per game and Precious Bridges has 8.3, putting them at 22nd and 29th respectively.

Next, the Bears play Lipscomb at home on Feb. 23.