For the second straight game, the Mercer women’s team’s offense was off a bit Saturday against Samford.
But no worries, the Bears’ defense got the job done once again.
After shutting down Wofford a week earlier, Mercer’s defense was strong throughout in a 59-49 victory over the Bulldogs. Mercer improves to 17-4 overall and 6-1 in the Southern Conference with its fifth straight win, while Samford drops to 9-13 and 2-5.
Mercer held Samford to 30.2 percent shooting from the floor (16-of-53) and 31.0 percent from 3-point range (9-of-29).
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The win marked the third straight game the Bears have not trailed. Mercer, which was ranked 10th in this week’s CollegeInsider.com Women’s Mid-Major Poll, is 10-2 at home.
Three who mattered
Sydni Means: Mercer’s junior guard had 20 points and did most of her damage from the free-throw line, where she made a career-high 14 shots in 16 attempts while playing 40 minutes.
Kahlia Lawrence: The junior guard made 7-of-16 from the floor to finish with 16 points.
KeKe Calloway: The sophomore had 10 points and six rebounds.
Making them count: Led by Means, the Bears were strong at the free-throw line, hitting 26-of-31 attempts. Samford was just 8-of-14.
Slow shooting: Mercer made 6-of-9 field goals in the first quarter but was just 10-of-37 after that. The Bears ended up shooting 34.8 percent (16-of-46).
Off the bench: In addition to its nine 3-pointers, Samford stayed close with a 27-4 advantage in bench points.
Owning Samford: Mercer has won nine straight games against Samford, and Mercer head coach Susie Gardner is now 6-0 against the Bulldogs.
Top of the standings: Mercer is tied for first place in the conference with Chattanooga.
They said it
Gardner on the win: “We have played well, and as Sydni said, we had a long week to prepare for these guys. They’re unique. Samford does run the clock for extended periods of time. They don’t take a lot of shots. They don’t have a lot of possessions, so it was critical that we try to get stops.”
Gardner on not being concerned with her offense: “Any time you play a conference game, the defense knows you and your tendencies as a player. They also tend to know your plays, and it makes it a lot tougher. It’s like playing against yourself. I think the shooting percentages typically in league will be lower than perhaps non-conference.”
Means on the win: “We went through a whole scout, a whole plan on how to defend Samford because they’re such a good team. They make you play defense for 30 seconds, and that’s really tough for us so being able to listen to the game plan that we had and just executing on defense was huge for us.”
Means on her free throws: “I wasn’t shooting the ball too well, so I knew that needed to be aggressive, and they were fouling me, so I knew that I was getting to the line and knocking down my free throws. And towards the end of the game, they were fouling so I knew that I needed to hit it to spread the game out.”
Mercer travels to Chattanooga at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.