Women’s basketball had their most impressive season in the past three years but fell to the University of Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament 83-38 on March 19.
The Bears started the game already at a disadvantage, as UConn was the #2 seed and had future Women's National Basketball Association players Evina Westbrook, Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Paige Buckners.
Despite the difference in team talent, the Bears hung around in the first quarter. They scored only nine points but held the Huskies to seventeen with a good defensive effort. In fact, the quarter was even closer until the Huskies went on an 8-0 run to close out the quarter. UConn further expanded their lead in the second, scoring 26 points compared to Mercer's 14. The Bears went into the second half down 43-23 and needed a big third quarter to get back into the game. They couldn't find it.
The Bears were held without a single bucket in the third quarter, falling behind 63-23. With no hope for a comeback, Mercer scored only 15 points compared to 20 from the Huskies in the fourth as the game ended in a 83-38 loss.
Shannon Titus led the Bears in scoring with 12 points, rebounds with five, and steals with five. Erin Houpt chipped in eight points for second-most on the team.
Despite the loss, the Bears had one of their better seasons in the past few years. After the 2019-20 season when the Bears went 8-23, the team went through a rebuilding period. Last season the team bounced back with a 19-7 record, losing to the University of South Carolina in the first round of the NCAA tournament. This year the Bears had their best season since 2018 and went 23-7. The Bears also went 13-1 in conference play, won the Southern Conference title for the fourth time, and saw many players received All-SoCon rewards.
Erin Houpt was named the SoCon Freshman of the Year and was named to the All-Freshman team along with Nigeria Harkless. Shannon Titus was named the SoCon Defensive Player of the Year as well as being named first-team All-SoCon and All-Defensive team. Amoria Neal-Tysor joined Titus on the first team with Jaron Dougherty on the second team. Coach Susie Gardner was named the SoCon Coach of the Year, honoring her coaching throughout the season.
The Bears have five graduate students in Endia Banks , Erin Gutierrez , Sierra Votaw , Shannon Titus and Lauren McNamara-Clement. They also have three seniors with Amoria Neal-Tysor, Jaron Dougherty and Allie Thayne. With these students statuses in mind, Mercer will look towards continuing their conference dominance next season.
Keith Holmes Jr. ‘22 is a journalism and creative writing double major who has worked with The Cluster as general staff since his Sophomore year. Keith has received Best in SNO awards for his sports articles along with years of work at Mercer’s ESPN3 branch. Keith spends his free time playing video games and writing fiction around campus.