Susie Gardner thought her Mercer women’s basketball team would rebound from its 74-56 loss to Chattanooga on Jan. 7. So far, so good.
The Bears went on the road last week to beat UNC Greensboro 77-64 and overcome a 16-0 deficit to beat Western Carolina 59-57. Mercer improved to 14-4 overall and 3-1 in Southern Conference play.
The Bears, who are ranked 12th in this week’s CollegeInsider.com Women’s Mid-Major top 25, return home at 7 p.m. on Thursday when they face Furman, which is 10-9 overall and 3-0 in conference play. The Paladins are tied for first place with Chattanooga.
The Bears beat the Paladins three times last year, by 11, two and 14 points, with the third game coming in the conference tournament semifinals.
“Furman, for whatever reason, we tend to play them close,” Gardner said. “I really have a lot of respect for Jackie Carson, their coach. Obviously, Whitney Bunn is one of the best players in the league running the point. For whatever reason, our teams just play very, very close games, well-played games. I will say I’m glad we’re playing them at home.”
On Saturday, Mercer stays at home against Wofford.
Another tough one
Mercer’s men’s basketball team has a 2-4 conference record with two of those losses coming to two of the top three teams in the standings: Chattanooga and East Tennessee State.
The Bears’ next game — at 7 p.m. on Thursday — comes against the third team atop the standings: UNC Greensboro. The Spartans are 14-5 overall and 5-1 in the conference, and they have wins over Chattanooga and East Tennessee State. On Saturday, Mercer (8-11 overall) stays on the road against Western Carolina.
On Tuesday, Bob Hoffman’s Mercer team announced the addition of Mitch Prendergast for next season. The 6-foot-1 guard from Dallas averages 14.5 points per game while shooting 51 percent on 3-pointers.
“We are thrilled Mitch chose Mercer over many excellent options,” Hoffman said. “He is exactly the kind of player and person we want to have in our program. He is an exceptional young man from a great family, a diligent student, and he loves the game. I know Mitch will be one of our hardest workers and a great ambassador for Mercer basketball in the community.”
Less than a month away
Craig Gibson has been waiting for this day for years, and his Mercer baseball program is officially less than a month away from opening OrthoGeorgia Park.
The Bears open their season at their refurbished home park Feb. 17 against Maryland-Eastern Shore.
“Our guys are really excited, just being out there on a daily basis, watching what happens,” Gibson said. “It’s just really exciting from a stadium standpoint, and also from a team standpoint, we’re excited about getting our product on the field and seeing what we have this year.”
The Bears won the Southern Conference regular-season title last year.
Former Georgia College pitcher Chris Gammon has signed a professional contract with the Washington Wild Things, who play in the independent Frontier League.
In 2015 for the Bobcats, Gammon had a 1.89 ERA, striking out 41 batters in 44 innings of work. He led the Bobcats with 31 appearances and six saves. As a senior in 2016, Gammon had eight saves in 22 appearances and struck out 26 batters in 25 innings.
Following his career at Georgia College, Gammon signed with the Garden City Wind of the Pecos League and had a 1.89 ERA with seven saves. The Wild Things open their season May 19.
Back at home
Fort Valley State’s basketball teams have a pair of home doubleheaders in the next few days.
The Wildcats’ teams host Benedict at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Claflin at 6 p.m. on Monday. The Fort Valley State men are 7-9 overall and 5-2 in the SIAC, while the women are 5-9, 4-2.
Middle Georgia State’s basketball teams host a doubleheader with Coastal Georgia begining at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Middle Georgia State men are 7-7 overall and 2-6 in the Southern States Athletic Conference, while the women are 3-11 and 1-7.