By DANIEL SHIRLEY
Mercer women’s basketball head coach Susie Gardner doesn’t know when or where her team will play or who its opponent will be in the first round of the WNIT.
She just knows her Bears will keep playing, and that’s another step in the right direction for her program.
Mercer earned a spot in the WNIT by sharing the Southern Conference regular-season championship with Chattanooga. The Mocs won the conference tournament title and the NCAA Tournament automatic berth that goes along with it, and they will find out their NCAA opponent Monday night when the field is announced.
Right after that, the Bears will find out what’s next for them in the WNIT.
“It’s kind of tricky to not know who your opponent is, so we’re kind of back to October-style practices, getting them back in shape,” Gardner said. “They took a few days off, and I think they’re really, really excited.”
Gardner said her team will watch the NCAA selection show Monday night, “just so they can see and feel how that feels like, so hopefully it will be us one day watching our name come up.”
Mercer enters the WNIT with a 24-8 record and just missed out on the program’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament as a Division I program, losing 65-57 to Chattanooga in the conference tournament championship game. The Bears rallied from down 13 to take the lead with four minutes left, but the veteran Mocs responded.
Now, the young Bears are ready to respond to that loss and keep their season going.
“We’re very excited. Our course, our season didn’t end how we wanted it to,” sophomore point guard Sydni Means said. “But being able to play in the WNIT is a big accomplishment for us, and we’re ready to make some noise in the postseason.”