Women's Basketball

A few nuggets as Mercer women’s basketball team kicks off its season

By Ryan Weaver

Center for Collaborative Journalism

Susie Gardner kicks off her 8th season as head coach of Mercer's women basketball team.
Susie Gardner kicks off her 8th season as head coach of Mercer's women basketball team. wmarshall@macon.com

As Mercer’s women’s basketball team kicks off its season Friday in Orlando, Florida, we offer some interesting tidbits about the team.

Building on a successful 2016-2017 season

The Bears hope to go for their third Southern Conference title in as many years. They won their second straight regular season SoCon title with a record of 12-2 in conference. The Bears went 25-7 overall last season and were invited to the WNIT postseason tournament where they lost to Alabama.

The Bears will be entering their eighth season with Susie Gardner and have 114 wins under her. The 25-win season marked the best finish to a season not just under Gardner but for the program as a whole. Conference coaches and media have voted Mercer as the preseason favorite to win the SoCon again.

Returning cast of players

Mercer will have all starting players and most role players return from last year’s championship run and will add two freshmen to the roster. The Bears’ leading scorer, Kahlia Lawrence (18.4 points per game), assist leader Sydni Means (6.8 points per game) and Keke Calloway were named to the SoCon preseason All-Conference Team.

Means has also been named to a watch list for the Nancy Lieberman Award. The award is given to the best women’s point guard in NCAA division I basketball.

Mercer starts season among top-25 ranked

Collegeinsider.com released its preseason rankings for mid-major Tuesday and placed Mercer at No. 15. The Bears have moved up a spot from where they finished last year, ranked No. 16.

The Bears will start their new season Friday night in Orlando as they travel to face UCF, which finished last season 21-12. The Knight’s 21-12 record was enough to get them invited to the WNIT, but they were knocked out in the second round. After facing UCF, Mercer will travel south to Boca Raton to play FAU Sunday afternoon. FAU is coming off a rough 2016-2017 season, going 4-25.