With her team riding a five-game winning streak entering the game, Mercer women’s basketball head coach Susie Gardner was surprised by what she saw Saturday at East Tennessee State.
The Bears lost 70-49, matching their most lopsided loss of the season (at Mississippi State in the season opener), to fall to 16-12 overall and 8-4 in the Southern Conference. And now the Bears have a quick turnaround as they host 20th-ranked Chattanooga at 7 p.m. on Monday.
East Tennessee State beat Mercer by two points in the teams’ first meeting last month.
“I was really caught off guard,” Gardner said. “They came out and punched us in the face and kept punching, and we just didn’t handle it well. No one really stood out. Everyone just played flat.”
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The Bears need to rediscover their fight quickly.
Chattanooga has won 20 straight game to sit at 24-3 overall and 12-0 in conference play. The Mocs are led by Chelsey Shumpert, who averages 12.0 points per game, while Jasmine Joyner and Keiana Gilbert both average 11.1.
Chattanooga beat Mercer 71-59 in the first meeting last month.
“They’re very, very balanced; they have shooters, and they have height inside,” Gardner said. “But what really stands out is their defense. They have talented players, and they just play really well together.”