Mercer women’s basketball vs Furman -- a matchup of the top two teams in the Southern Conference. Also, a potential preview of the 2019 SoCon Championship that will take place in just over a week.
The Bears got out to a hot start by playing stifling defense and getting out in transition. They led 20-5 after the first quarter of play.
The second quarter was a bit more even, but the Bears were able to maintain a double-digit lead, 32-20.
However, Furman rolled out a full-court press defense in the third quarter -- and it gave Mercer fits. The Paladins outscored the Bears by six to cut their lead down to just 43-37 heading into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter saw the Paladins continue to eat into the Mercer lead, eventually tying the game up with four minutes to play.
After a few traded baskets, the Bears capitalized on a few Furman turnovers with a 6-0 run to go up 57-51 with under two minutes to go.
The Paladins didn’t go away easy, but a dagger from beyond the arc by Linnea Rosendall put the Bears up 60-53 with just 45 seconds to go.
When the clock showed all zeroes, the Bears had held on for a 66-62 victory.
(1) Bears need to keep their foot on the gas pedal
Too often when Mercer gets a comfortable lead, they take a step back, relax and allow teams to get back into games. With the SoCon Tournament just over a week away, the competition is only going to get tougher. If Mercer wants to repeat as SoCon Tournament champions for a second consecutive season, the Bears will need to start fast, stay fast and ultimately, finish fast.
(2) Vision of the Mercer bigs
In the game of basketball, having post players that can find open players and make plays passing the ball is rare. Luckily for Mercer women’s basketball, they’ve got two of them. Amanda Thompson and Rachel Selph combined for nine assists in the game. For a team that lacks a true point guard in the starting lineup, having bigs with vision like Selph and Thompson is invaluable.
(3) A preview of what’s to come
What Thursday’s game against Furman provided the Bears is a preview of what to expect come SoCon tournament time. Mercer is going to get every team’s best shot, no matter their record in the regular season. This team is battle-tested, and have proven they can win close games on many occasions this season. I expect more close games in their future come tournament time and beyond.
Player of the Game: Amanda Thompson (No. 2)
- The senior dished out a career-high seven assists
- Thompson posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds
- She sunk two huge free-throws down the stretch to put her team firmly in the driver’s seat
(-) Head Coach Susie Gardner on the team’s rough second half:
"Well, thank goodness we had a good first quarter. Because we just about let them comeback. It was one of the .. best quarters we’ve had. But I told them that Furman is not gonna go away. We did some illavised things that we should not be doing this late in the season, but thankfully Amanda (Thompson) and Rachel (Selph) came to play today.”
(-) Thompson on the passing ability of her team’s post players:
“We work a lot on post sets, and being able to especially feed each other. And then sometimes kick it out to the corners. So, I think it’s huge for us to be able to work with each other, and just score in that way.”
(-) Gardner on the play of Thompson:
“Amanda’s (Thompson) the glue of our team. She’s the heart and soul. We ask her to do everything that’s needed of her, and she never questions, she never complains. She just says ‘whatever you need from me coach, I’ll do.’ The success that we’re having is based on those seniors, and it starts with Amanda.”