#KeKe4Three is a hashtag that the Mercer Women’s Basketball Twitter page (@MercerWBB) and Bears fans have gotten used to using. It is Keke’s world and we are all just living in it.
Mercer Women’s Basketball is rolling. The Bears (15-2, 2-0) extended their win streak to 12 games after wins over Wofford (7-9, 1-1) and Furman (10-6, 1-1) last week. The 12 game win streak is tied for the program’s longest since joining the NCAA Division I level. The X-factor in each of those wins, and especially the last two games, was Keke Calloway.
“Keke Calloway was working,” said Head Coach Susie Gardner when asked what the key was in the two wins. “Keke has been on fire for the last 5 or 6 six games actually.”
Calloway had career high nights on both occasions, notching 34 points (13-20 fg, 7-10 3-pt fg) in the 71-46 drubbing of Wofford and 40 points (14-23 fg, 12-18 3-pt fg) in the 86-64 beatdown of Furman. The 12 three-pointers in the Furman win tied a NCAA record for most three-pointers in a game set in 1995 by Cornelia Gayden of LSU and again in 2012 by Brittany Rayburn of Purdue. It also broke the previous Mercer record of seven, and the SoCon record of nine. When asked about the record Calloway said it was still about winning.
“My first thought was ‘hey, it was cool, but I’m just glad we got the win because if we didn’t get the win, none of that would have mattered,’” Calloway said.
Calloway’s 40 points are the most scored by a SoCon player this season. She topped Kahlia Lawrence’s previous 39-point performance against North Carolina. In the last seven games, Calloway has averaged 27.7 points per game and made a total of 40 three-pointers. Her scoring in the last two contests earned her the title of SoCon Player of the Week. Calloway said she is just working within the offense and fulfilling her role to the team.
“It helps that my teammates and my coach as well [are] very confident in me and they’re always encouraging me to shoot the ball and, you know, score,” Calloway said. “In order for us to get wins, that’s what I have to do, and so I’ve been really fulfilling my role and doing it to the best of my ability.”
While Calloway has certainly been stellar, the Bears are playing exceptionally as a team. Coach Gardner emphasized the backcourt in particular. The Mercer Three-Headed Monster of Sydni Means, Calloway and Lawrence has been giving defenses headaches all season. They just might be one of the best backcourts in the NCAA. As of Jan. 8, Means is second in turnover ratio and total assists, Calloway is second in three-point field goals made, and Lawrence is 10th in field goals made.
“I think we actually have a pretty exceptional backcourt in general with Sydni at the point, and then Kahlia is a very unique and potent scorer and Keke has proven to be so as well much more consistently this year,” Gardner said. “I would say that those two guys on the wings (Calloway and Lawrence) really make it trickier for opponents to defend.”
The Christmas break was chalk full of superlatives for the Bears. Here’s a list of milestones you might have missed:
Coach Gardner collected her 300th career win as a coach against South Carolina State on Dec. 19. The win was also her 124th at Mercer. The win over Furman was her 129th and puts her within five wins of becoming the all-time winningest women’s coach at Mercer University.
Senior guard Sydni Means tallied her 500th career assist as a Bear, one of only four Mercer players to do so. She currently has 566 total assists and is third on Mercer Women’s all-time assist list.
Senior guard Kahlia Lawrence is now the fourth all-time leading scorer in Mercer Women’s Basketball history. She surpassed the 4th and 5th spots belonging to Precious Bridges and Sybil Blalock over the holiday break. Lawrence has 1,966 career points and is 132 points away from third place on the all-time women’s list.
Keke Calloway is now second on the Mercer Women’s all-time three-point field goals made list. Calloway has made 187 field goals from beyond the arc and is now 30 three-pointers away from the number one spot.
The Bears tallied a program record 31 assists in the win over Winthrop on Dec. 17.