Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Logo of The Mercer Cluster
Wednesday, Jun 12, 2024
Interested in Working for the Cluster? Ask about joining our Discord!

Shoot Your Shot: Bears set and extend program record with 15 consecutive wins

Photo caption: The Bears pose after their 15th consecutive win over Western Carolina on Saturday
Photo caption: The Bears pose after their 15th consecutive win over Western Carolina on Saturday

Put three more in the W column for the women’s basketball team after it collected impressive wins over SoCon opponents in the last week. The winning streak extended to 15 games, but the last two are proof that there is still work to be done for the Bears.

“We got off to a great start in the first quarter 21-6, but after that it just didn’t seem like [we played]  our best game,” said head coach Susie Gardner after Saturday’s win over Western Carolina.

[related title="Related Stories" stories="23053,23049,22985" align="left" background="off" border="none" shadow="on"]

The Bears (18-2, 5-0) tallied wins over Samford University, University of North Carolina Greensboro,  and Western Carolina University over the last week, but each game proved that winning in the SoCon is no easy task. Samford led after the first quarter in its own house; that’s the first time the Bears have lost the opening quarter since the Charlotte game. Both Samford and UNCG were tied with the Bears at halftime, and despite the sizeable win over the Catamounts, the game had a feeling of sloppiness on the Bears part.

Here  is an interesting question - can too much success be a distraction? Media members posed the question to Gardner and junior guard KeKe Calloway Saturday night.

“I couldn’t tell you what the win streak was. We don’t talk about it, we don’t mention it, we don’t think about it,” said Gardner adamantly. “We’re just trying to play our best basketball.”

Calloway, in her usual cool manner, also said, “We don’t talk about it.”

The Bears set a program record for consecutive wins in a season with 14 after beating UNCG. Gardner claims that the streak is non-existent in the locker room or in practice and that the team is mature enough to understand that it is the winning and not the win streak that matters. The only people supposedly talking about it is people in the media  and the sports information department with Mercer’s cool, fancy graphics.

Calloway scored her 1,000th point with her first bucket against Western Carolina; she mentioned that she knew exactly how close she was to the milestone. Kahlia Lawrence scored her 2,000th point against UNCG and was presented a game ball prior to the Western Carolina game. The distractions are there and still both continually stuff the stat sheet.

Despite claims that the team is not distracted, the first halves of all the past three games seem a bit ...distracted. Some uncharacteristic turnovers, loss of possessions after two players collide on easy rebounds and some easy baskets allowed here and there all point to a team that still has a few chinks in the armor.

The Bearssaving grace has been their defense. They play well enough throughout the game that when the offense seems to find its rhythm in the second half, the Bears are in business.

Mercer still owns the top assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference at 1.9 and the top turnover margin at +9.6. The Bears have forced 20 or more turnovers in 10 of their 20 games this season. Using their defense to create easy transition offense and the intense energy they get off the bench from Alex Williams and Kayla Potts have righted the Mercer ship the last several games.

The Bears take on ETSU and Chattanooga to finish out the first round of SoCon play before teams face each other again in their second matchup. ETSU is currently tied with Mercer for first place in the league and Chattanooga always provides Mercer with a bit of a mental matchup as much as a physical one. Despite the great start to league play and the extended streak, these are the two teams Gardner and company know they have to beat if they want a firm hold on the Southern Conference.

Coach Gardner on being the best team in the conference:

“At tip-off (Saturday), we’re tied with ETSU. I don’t know what happened in their game today, but I also know we have ETSU next. You know until we play everyone in the conference, you know, I’m not going to comment on how good we are or where we stand because you need to play all seven teams that we’re going to play against and then you have to go round robin. We have our goals, we don’t talk about our goals, but we just try to be business as usual every day.



Bench Play

The Bears had the benefit of a lifted bench against UNCG on Thursday. Mercer had 33 bench points to make up for the lack of scoring after Lawrence, Amanda Thompson, and Rachel Selph got into early foul trouble. Linnea Rosendal showed glimpses of her freshman year with 13 points and 3 three-pointers. Potts showed her usual energy on both ends with 6 points, 6 steals and 3 assists. Williams put up 8 points and 7 rebounds as well.

Floor General

Sydni Means continues to be the coach on the floor that Coach Gardner needs. Means now has the highest assist-to-turnover ratio in the NCAA at 4.97. She is also third in assists per game (8.7) and is tied for second in total assists (174). She’s also putting in 8.7 points which is third on the team.


Next Up

The Bears hit the road for the next two games at ETSU on Thursday, Jan. 25 and Chattanooga on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Mercer Cluster, Mercer University