The Mercer women’s basketball team continued their winning ways in the second game of their three-game home stand as they defeated South Carolina State 74-53.
The first quarter was a battle of wills as the lead exchanged hands several times. The Lady Bulldogs aggressively guarded the 3-point line, seemingly unafraid of Mercer’s interior offense. It seemed to frazzle the Bears as they watched many shots rim in and out of the basket. The visitors also limited Mercer to only one free throw attempt. By the end of the first, the Bear were clinging to a three-point lead.
The second quarter saw the Bears defensive intensity turn up as head coach Susie Gardner used a smaller, more athletic lineup to create easy baskets and cut through the South Carolina State zone defenses. That and a Khalia Lawrence offensive rebound that she put back in while being fouled before the buzzer gave Mercer a 36-26 lead heading into halftime.
In the second half the Bears imposed their will and, like in many games previously, they were able to stretch out a lead that their opponents were simply unable to chase down. When the final horn blew, Mercer had earned its seventh consecutive win.
Three who mattered
Sydni Means - On a night when she was honored for dishing out over 500 assists, Means showed her scoring prowess. She poured in 17 points while still collecting five assists, and two steals. Even more surprising was her three blocks.
Kahlia Lawrence - She was not scoring early on but she was great on the boards finishing with 11 rebounds. Ultimately, that energy allowed her to find her shot and end the game with 17 points.
Keke Calloway- At halftime Calloway had only scored six points. After the break, while the Lady Bulldogs were cooling off, she was heating up. She went 7-15 overall from the three-point line and finished with a career high 26 points.
Small Ball! - When Mercer goes small their lineup becomes more dangerous defensively. The toughness of Lawrence, Calloway, Amanda Thompson, Alex Williams and Kayla Potts and their similarities in length allow them to quickly pick up whomever they are near, switch on picks, and attack the basket for rebounds. It will be interesting to watch if small ball might be an answer to the length of some opponents coming up in the future for the Bears.
They said it
Coach Susie Gardner on 300 wins: “I was more excited for Sydni getting her 500 assists, those are the milestones I appreciate. But it’s just business as usual tonight, watch tape all night and get ready for Thursday.”
On Amanda Thompson and Kayla Potts importance to the team: “They’re special! They don’t shine and they don’t get interview a lot but they do all the little things that coaches appreciate.”
Sydni Means on 500 assists: “It’s humbling. I didn’t realize how close I was until coach text me after the game and told me I got it. Being able to be recognized for it is a pretty big deal and so I’m not going to take anything for granted and I’m just very appreciative.”
Keke Calloway on bouncing back from a slow first half to score a career high: “Being a scorer, you can never get too high or too low because if you’re a shooter you’re going to shoot it and eventually if you are good enough it is going to fall and even if it doesn’t just keep your head up and keep it moving.”
The Mercer Women are home at Hawkins Arena on Thursday to finish out their pre-Christmas schedule. They will welcome Howard University. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.