Heading to play Thursday on an ACC court against the team with the conference's leading scorer might sound like a daunting task.
But the Mercer women's basketball team is looking forward to that challenge with its trip to Georgia Tech in the first round of the WNIT.
"We've had opportunities to play bigger schools this year, and this is another experience for us," Mercer sophomore and Southern Conference Player of the Year Kahlia Lawrence said. "We're just excited about the chance to play at Georgia Tech. It's close to home. It's a major school. And we're ready to see how we match up."
The Bears have matched up well for most of this season and enter the WNIT with a 24-8 record. MaChelle Joseph's Georgia Tech team is 19-12 and is led by senior Aaliyah Whiteside, who leads the ACC in scoring at 19.4 points per game.
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Roddreka Rogers is the Yellow Jackets' other key senior. Mercer has no seniors on its roster.
"When you play Louisville, Notre Dame and Florida State and those guys and average 19 points per game, you're an outstanding player," Mercer head coach Susie Gardner said of Whiteside. "She may be a WNBA type player, and then they have Rogers on the inside, who is tough. It's really exciting. We were anxiously awaiting the bid on Monday night. We didn't get the bid on who we were going to play until like 11 p.m., but honestly our staff kind of guessed we'd be going up to Georgia Tech.
"MaChelle Joseph has done an exceptional job up there in turning that program around. They've got a really really good basketball team. It's good for us. It's not that far away. We've got some parents who can come. Hopefully we'll have some fans. I like the opportunity."
With so many players returning for next year, the WNIT is an opportunity for the Bears to continue to grow their program. A win would make this season Mercer's second winningest season ever.
"We've grown this year. and we're continuing to grow," Lawrence said. "We're hoping everybody will be back, that's what we plan on. I think it allows us to continue build our chemistry and see how we match up against everybody else."