Ry’van Buchanan and Sharnea Boykin have been absent from Mercer’s lineup because of concussions.
The headaches, however, continue for their teammates in uniform.
Mercer led at halftime but suffered through three key scoring droughts in the second half and couldn’t quite rally in losing 49-39 to North Florida in A-Sun women’s action Saturday at the University Center.
Both teams showcased their defense as the offenses struggled to an afternoon as dreary as the weather: 31-of-117 for 26.5 percent shooting. Mercer made one more shot than North Florida but took 17 more.
“Our individual shooting,” Mercer head coach Susie Gardner said. “That’s the story of the game.”
Briana Williams and Jasmine Blakemore had eight points each for Mercer, which had only one player -- true freshman Teanna Robinson at 2-for-3 -- shoot better than 40 percent. Blakemore was 4-for-10.
Gardner reeled off some of the specific shooting numbers: 3-for-18, 1-for-5, 3-for-11 and so on.
“That’s it,” she said. “They went to the zone. We had open shots, didn’t hit the open shots. It’s quite simple.”
North Florida’s Brittany Kirkland led all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-19 shooting, including 17 points in the second half.
“We did a great job on Kirkland in the first half,” Gardner said. “But as a good player does, she came back and had her way with us in the second half.”
Mercer fell to 3-17 overall and 1-8 in A-Sun while North Florida improved to 8-12 and 5-4.
North Florida was perfect on eight free-throw tries in the final 34 seconds to clinch the win.
Gardner called for a timeout after a pair of easy North Florida buckets gave the Ospreys a seven-point lead with 13:24 remaining. The margin grew to 12 midway through the second half.
North Florida hit a massive drought, and Mercer crept closer, getting a big 3-pointer from Alicia Williams to pull within a possession at the 3:06 mark.
The Ospreys went up 41-37 on Kirkland’s clutch jumper from the right side with 1:42 left, breaking North Florida’s slump of 8:32. Precious Bridges followed two North Florida free throws with a runner to cut the deficit to 43-39 with 28.2 seconds left, but that’s where the threat ended.
Mercer shot 29 percent in the first half and 19.4 in the second to finish at 23.9 percent. North Florida countered with 21.4 and 40.9 for 30 percent for the game. The Ospreys also took a 52-38 rebounding advantage, although Mercer had one more offensive rebound.
“I thought we would shoot better in the second half, but we did not,” Gardner said. “That was the difference.”