Coming off their second Southern Conference loss of the season, the Merer women got just the start they needed Saturday at East Tennessee State.
The Bears jumped out to a 20-point first-quarter lead and then held off the Buccaneers for a 71-56 win to improve to 18-5 overall and 7-2 in the conference. The Buccaneers fall to 14-10 and 6-3. Mercer completed a season-sweep of East Tennessee State after winning 72-55 last month.
Junior Kahlia Lawrence continued her strong season with a game-high 21 points as eight Mercer players scored. Sophomore Rachel Selph, who got her first start of the season, had a career-high 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Lawrence hit 8-of-14 shots from the floor, while Selph was 5-of-6 from the floor and the free-throw line.
Junior point guard Sydni Means added 13 points and seven assists. Means was 5-of-8 from the free-throw line.
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Mercer led 23-3 at the end of the first quarter only to have East Tennessee State cut that lead to 31-22 at the half. Mercer, however, slowly pulled away in the second half.
The Bears shot 26-of-51 from the floor (51.0 percent), while the Buccaneers shot 19-of-62 (30.6 percent). Mercer made 5-of-11 from behind the 3-point line.
The Bears return home Thursday to host Western Carolina. Mercer rallied from a 16-0 deficit to beat Western Carolina 59-57 last month.