Mercer

Mercer falls just short in attempt to pull off historic upset in the NCAA tournament

Iowa forward Megan Gustafson drives to the basket past Mercer center Rachel Selph, left, during a first-round game in the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament, Friday, March 22, 2019, in Iowa City, Iowa.
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson drives to the basket past Mercer center Rachel Selph, left, during a first-round game in the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament, Friday, March 22, 2019, in Iowa City, Iowa. AP

The Mercer Bears almost did the impossible in Iowa City.

The Iowa Hawkeyes found a way to avoid a historic upset by knocking off the Bears 66-61.

The NCAA women’s tournament has never seen a No. 2 seed lose to a No. 15 seed. Heading into the final quarter, it looked like Mercer might be the first to do it.

The Bears struggled to hit a shot in the first half but hung with the Hawkeyes for most of the first half despite going down by as much as 11. The defense kept Mercer in the game throughout as it forced 24 turnovers.

In the third quarter, Mercer went on a 7-0 run to draw within one. It would then go back and forth for most of the quarter until Mercer hit a shot at the buzzer to take a 51-50 lead into the fourth.

Megan Gustafson, the Hawkeyes’ leading scorer and rebounder coming into the game, took over down the stretch. The star finished with 30 points and 16 rebounds. She found a way to power Iowa past the veteran Mercer squad.

Keke Calloway and Amanda Thompson led the way for the Bears. Calloway finished with a team-high 21 points and five assists while Thompson chipped in 18 points and seven rebounds.

This will end the season for the Bears as they fall by the same amount of points, five, as they did last year in the NCAA tournament to the University of Georgia. Iowa will move on to face the winner of Missouri and Drake.

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