Things were not looking good for the Mercer women’s basketball team Saturday.
The Bears had a 15-point lead they had built in the first half, and the Belmont Bruins had found their shooting touch and were controlling the offensive boards.
To make matters worse, leading scorer Dominique Chism had just picked up her fourth foul.
But then senior Cristin Seymour stepped up. During the next five minutes, Seymour scored all five of her points, grabbed three rebounds and had two crucial steals to help turn a 50-47 deficit into a 62-59 lead on the way to a 70-61 win.
The victory moves the Bears into a tie with Belmont for third in the A-Sun with two regular-season games left and clinches a winning season for Mercer.
Seymour, who was honored with five other seniors before the game, understands what her roll is when she enters a game.
“I want to provide a boost of energy when I get into the game,” Seymour said. “I want to go out and work hard and do anything I can to give my team a spark, and thankfully I was able to do that (Saturday). Our teamwork, I think, is the key to our success, and it has been great to be a part of a winning team here.”
Taking advantage of a cold shooting Belmont team, Mercer jumped out to a 20-5 lead. The Bears’ defense held Belmont to 3-for-19 shooting in the first 13 minutes. But behind LaWanna Holiday, who hit two 3-pointers in a row, the Bruins were able to cut the Mercer lead to 35-26 at the half.
Belmont feasted at the free-throw line in the second half. The Bruins cut the Mercer lead down to two on a basket and free throw by Amber Rockwell, then took their first lead on a 3-pointer by Rockwell a minute later.
After Jessica Bobbitt scored inside to push the Belmont lead to three, the Mercer defense took over. After taking the lead back on a 3 by LaToya Jackson at 58-56, the Bears held the Bruins to four points during the final five minutes of the game.
“Dominique had a great game,” Mercer head coach Janell Jones said. “ We have grown accustomed to playing without her because of fouls, but I thought that all of her fouls were hustle fouls, and I can live with that. Cristin Seymour had an outstanding game for us. She had a big steal to set up the go-ahead 3, and she did a tremendous job defensively. Natasha Doh just provides so much leadership and just does what we need her to do. I do know that we cannot give up 23 offensive rebounds and expect to win. but we will continue to work on that”.
Doh, who sat out all of last year, gave her team solid minutes, with 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists. The transfer from Oklahoma State sees her team doing good things at the end of the year.
Mercer improves to 15-12 and 11-7 in the A-Sun, while Belmont falls to 16-11 and 11-7.
“I think we will finish strong,” she said. “We have a lot of good basketball players, and it has been great to see it all come together this year. We have two tough road games (this) week, but I think we are ready to step up.”