Two: the amount of regular-season games Mercer women’s basketball lost this season. Two: the amount of regular-season games Mercer won in 2010.
That year was head coach Susie Gardner’s first on the job. Much has changed in eight years – and not only on the court.
“We won two games my first year, and I told marketing, ‘Do not market this program. I don’t want anybody to see this,’” Gardner said. “So we played, and we could hear the bouncing ball to echoes.”
The only echo now is a roar. Saturday, they played UGA in Stegeman Coliseum in front of a sea of orange and black that nearly equaled the red and black in the arena.
“There’s no way we can express our gratitude to those fans,” Gardner said. “It’s just incredible.”
The patrons donned in orange and black were there to witness a team playing in its first-ever NCAA Tournament game. The patrons donned in orange and black were there to witness a team that had only lost two games to that point.
The patrons donned in orange and black were there to witness the end of a four-year stellar senior class led by Kahlia Lawrence and Sydni Means.
"We made history this year, and it was very special,” Means said. “We wanted to continue making history for this program. That's what hurts. Just to see where this team has come in the course of four years has been amazing.”
Means and Lawrence – alongside Alex Williams, Kayla Potts and Shon Kitchens – stepped foot on campus in 2014. Only three times in the previous 12 seasons had Mercer finished the season with a winning record.
In the last four years, Mercer has won at least 20 games each season, won three Southern Conference regular-season titles and a SoCon championship.
“It was a program that wasn’t winning, and we convinced them that we were going to do something special,” Gardner said. “That’s how I recruited them, and that’s what they did.”
The numbers back it up. Lawrence was a three-time Southern Conference Player of the Year, the first female to win the award three times in the conference’s history. Over her four-year career, she averaged 17.1 points.
Her 2,275 points ranks her third in program history behind Vivian Humphrey (2,284) and Andrea Congreaves (2,796).
Means didn’t play much as a freshman but took a step forward her last three seasons, averaging 9.5 points, 6.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds. Her 686 assists ranks her second in program history behind only Stephany Raines (851).
She was also named to the All-SoCon First Team in 2017.
“They’re great people,” Gardner said. “They represent our university. They make good grades, they don’t get in trouble and they do all the things right. They were just brought up right. They came to us and they make my job easier because they came every day to work. They had dreams, they had goals and just a fun group to be around.”
Five are leaving, and five are coming. The Bears signed their biggest class in three years for 2018-19: guard Amoria Neal-Tysor, guard Summer Pahl, guard/forward Cierra Scott, forward Jaron Stallworth and guard Emily Stradling.
"I think collectively, this class is going to be really special,” Gardner said in a press release. “We knew what we needed to sign, we went out and pursued that skill set in an athlete, but also I am really excited that we can be selective in the type of people that we bring in here.”
They’ll join a group that – without Lawrence and Means – will look to extend the momentum this season provided the program.
And they’ll do so to the roar of a crowd rather than the echo of the ball.
“I knew there were going to be people [at Stegeman Coliseum], but Lord have mercy,” Gardner said. “The whole Georgia student section was packed with Mercer people … It was loud. It was passionate. It was fun.”