After suffering its second Southern Conference loss of the season Saturday, the Mercer women's basketball team returned to Hawkins Arena on Thursday and dominated from the tip in an 80-32 routing of Wofford.
The Bears (21-7, 11-2 Southern Conference) were hot early, as they connected on 11-of-15 shots in the first quarter. Wofford (9-18, 3-10) registered more turnovers (10) than points as Mercer led 24-9.
The onslaught continued into the second quarter, as Wofford managed only four points on 2-of-9 shooting while the Bears connected on three 3-pointers and stretched their lead to 46-13 at the half.
The Terriers nearly doubled their first-half scoring output with 12 in the third quarter alone, but the Bears never allowed Wofford to threaten as they eventually outscored the Terriers 34-19 in the second half.
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THREE WHO MATTERED
Kahlia Lawrence: The sophomore poured in 25 points (10-of-16 shooting) and added four rebounds and three assists.
KeKe Calloway: Highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers in the second quarter, Calloway was second on the team with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
Sydni Means: The sophomore wreaked havoc defensively with a team-high six steals but also chipped in eight points and six assists offensively.
Turnovers on the menu: Wofford finished with 35 turnovers, 16 more than its season average of nearly 19. The Bears took advantage, scoring 37 points off those turnovers.
Defensive lockdown: Wofford's 32 points were the fewest the Bears have allowed this season. The previous low was Faulkner's 33 on Dec. 13. The Terriers shot only 25.6 percent (11-of-43) from the field.
Team effort: Ten players scored for Mercer, with seven contributing at least five points.
History in the making: With a win over Furman on Saturday, Mercer would earn a share of its first regular-season conference title since the 1991-92 season, when the Bears went 10-2 in the New South Women's Atlantic Conference. If Mercer wins and Chattanooga loses, the Bears would win the title outright. Mercer can clinch the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament with a win Saturday, no matter what Chattanooga does against East Tennessee State.
Second time's a charm: In the first outing, Mercer defeated Wofford 70-61 behind a strong second half in which it outscored the Terriers 43-27. But the second meeting was not close late after the Bears wasted no time grabbing a large lead.
Bouncing back: The Bears' 11th conference win of the season comes one game after losing by 22 points on the road at Chattanooga.
THEY SAID IT
Head coach Susie Gardner on possible winning a regular-season title: “It’s certainly not anything we talked about as a team, a program or a coaching staff when the season started… I told the sophomores, ‘Who would have thought we would be sitting here with one game to go talking about a championship?’ None of us would have thought that. … If we do (win it), it would be kind of somewhat amazing, in all honesty.”
Means on starting well after loss Saturday: “We were just ready to get back on the court, because that wasn’t our best game, and we knew that we had a lot of work to do. It’s good to come back out and a have a game like this.”
Lawrence on mindset going into next game: “We actually just started talking about it (Thursday) after the win… Our mindset is just to go out and do what we do. Not really have any pressure on being seeded in first place, but try to go out and be better, do what we do -- do what we normally do.”
Mercer hosts Furman on Saturday in its final regular-season game.