This is an opinion article. Any views expressed belong solely to the author and are not representative of The Cluster.
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Mercer's Bill Knight only needed two steps from home plate before he clapped his hands in celebration in front of the roaring crowd at OrthoGeorgia Park. The Florida State team in the field reacted with him, hanging their heads and beginning their trek to the showers as the Mercer squad exploded out of the dugout.
While Major League Baseball is out of commission amidst a feud between players and owners, college baseball is ready to start firing on all cylinders yet again. With the season starting Friday, here's a look at what to watch for during Mercer's baseball season.
This is an opinion article. Any views expressed belong solely to the author and are not representative of The Cluster.
Mercer University announced its COVID-19 protocols for the Spring 2022 semester in an email from president William Underwood Friday afternoon. The university will be continuing with in-person classes to start the semester, according to the email.
Mercer University has released its updated COVID-19 policies to be put in place for the spring 2022 semester, according to an email from University President William Underwood.
When Mercer iced the win in front of a homecoming weekend crowd at Mercer’s Five Star Stadium, it was done with an onside kick. The Bears fell on the ball and with it secured their first chance at a conference title since the program was reinstated in 2013.
As chants of ‘Freddie’ rang down from the seats of Truist Park on Oct. 12, the cornerstone of the Atlanta Braves’ current squad looked happier than ever.
The Mercer Men’s Golf team finished in second place overall at the Golfweek Fall Challenge last week, breaking the program record for a 54 hole course in the process with a team score of 29-under par.
On a day destined for a shutout, Mercer University had other plans. Amidst a Tide of points for the University of Alabama in Saturday afternoon’s game, the Bears were able to score two touchdowns of their own against the No. 1 team in the country.
One of the most important days of the academic year is the drop-add deadline, but it can be easy to miss for new students at Mercer.This year it’s Aug. 27, the Friday of the first week of classes. Here’s everything you need to know about drop-add and how it can change your schedule and college experience.
This is an opinion article. Any views expressed belong solely to the author and are not representative of The Cluster.COVID-19 has drawn divisive lines between friends, families, coworkers and everyone in between. It’s not an easy topic to avoid, and it’s a controversial one once it gets brought up. Mercer University knows this and is avoiding taking a truly definitive stance on masks. The university administration needs to step up and have a strong stance on masks for the safety of both the Mercer and Macon communities.Before tackling the issues on why masks should be required, the policy itself has to be addressed. The school’s current mask policy, which is essentially an ambiguous set of recommendations, is a problem whether you support mask mandates or not.The most recent policy update was released Aug. 12 by the university and said that unvaccinated individuals are required to wear masks. The policy also states that vaccinated individuals are not required to wear masks but are “strongly encouraged” to do so.This policy is impossible to enforce. Mercer simply does not have the resources to keep track of who is vaccinated and enforce unvaccinated students to keep their masks on. While students will submit proof of vaccination prior to the beginning of the semester, there is virtually no way to constantly check people’s vaccination status.As it stands currently, faculty will not be provided a list of unvaccinated students, according to the Provost’s office. This means that they will be unable to enforce unvaccinated students wearing masks within their classrooms.Another problem lies in the fact that Mercer’s policy allows departments to have their own individual mask requirements.On Aug. 18, the Journalism and Media Studies department is enforcing all students to wear masks regardless of vaccination status. Other departments are currently developing their own policies that may differ.This is chaos. While many students do have most of their classes in one area of study, many more have a variety of classes in different departments and buildings. Students should not have to keep up with varying masking policies when moving between classes. It is extremely inefficient at best and a huge health risk at worst.This policy also shifts the blame for enforcing masks onto departments and professors instead of the school administration. The entire job of the administration is to make decisions on school-wide issues, yet it deferred this choice to each individual area of study. Now department chairs will be blamed by students who may not agree with certain policies despite the fact that the administration is at fault for making their policy so open-ended.This simply is not fair to department chairs who have enough to deliberate on within their actual jobs, nor is it fair to students who will undoubtedly want answers about why certain mask requirements were put in place.Perhaps the most important reason for Mercer actually developing a policy, though, can be found in the data. On July 17 in Bibb County, there were not any new COVID-19 cases, according to the New York Times. The seven-day average that day was listed at 12 new cases. This is an outlier, of course, but it shows that the area did at one point have a moderate handle on the pandemic.On Aug. 17, there were 211 new cases in Bibb County. The seven-day average for new cases was 173. This ties in with a national trend, as the country recently broke the 100,000 case mark and saw some states break records for hospitalizations.The same New York Times article lays out simple graphs that display the obvious: these meteoric rises in cases are directly tied to the low vaccination rates across the nation. As long as vaccination rates remain low, the delta variant of COVID-19 will continue to spread. Masking and social distancing are necessary to prevent this.Those drastically increased Bibb County numbers are without the presence of a student body that will be filled with unvaccinated students and maskless students. Either Mercer enforces masks for everyone or it requires vaccinations of all students, and it’s too late for the latter to make a meaningful difference with the delta variant.Mercer has made a distinct effort to build its relationship with Macon and Bibb County in recent years. The university has helped renovate nearby neighborhoods, brought people to the downtown area and provided jobs to citizens. The communities of Macon and Mercer are inherently linked as a result, with Mercer students and faculty interacting with surrounding areas more than ever.With this in mind, Mercer simply cannot be responsible for the deaths or hospitalizations of Bibb County citizens. After all of the building Mercer has done in Bibb County, it risks it all by having a mask policy that could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases and subsequent deaths.The logistical problems with requiring vaccinations are easy to understand, but there is no logistical issue with enforcing masks. It makes everything simpler for everyone involved. Even not having a mandatory mask policy — as opposed to the “policy” that’s currently in place — would be simpler.The bottom line is that Mercer’s current mask policy is indecisive and utterly fails to protect the student body. The university desperately needs to make a decision on whether or not they wish to fully enforce masks.Regardless of their opinion on the necessity of masks, Mercer needs to have their policy apply to everyone and extend as a blanket to all areas of campus. At least let students be sure of what’s asked of them — to mask or not to mask — even if it means an increased number of COVID-19 cases.
The Mercer men’s and women’s soccer teams will start their seasons soon and offered previews of what’s to come in exhibition games throughout August. Here’s a look at how each team fared in friendly matchups and what to look for this season. Women’s soccer Mercer women’s soccer began their season Aug. 11 with an exhibition matchup against Jacksonville University, winning the game by a score of 3-0 at Betts Stadium. An early goal in the fourth minute of play gave the Bears a 1-0 lead that set the tone for the matchup. Mercer’s Pace Stephenson, Ally Fordham and Kendall Cook all scored goals in the game. "It's always good to play a friendly prior to the regular season and see where our team is at," women’s head coach Tony Economopoulos told Mercer Athletics after the game. "We got off to a quick start and did some things well, but Jacksonville exposed things we need to work on as well.” The team’s second friendly match came against the Auburn University Tigers Aug. 14. Mercer lost by a score of 2-0, allowing goals in the 51st and 55th minutes of the match. The Bears did not allow a shot on goal for the first 20 minutes of play. "In the first half I thought our defense was good," Economopoulos said. "Auburn had more shots than us, but I was proud of the way we played throughout the first 45 minutes.” Despite the loss, the game was a positive showing for Mercer’s squad. The future of the team was on display in the area of goalkeeping, as freshman goalie Lindsay Bell made multiple saves against Auburn to keep the game scoreless at halftime. While the goalie position this year will be occupied by graduate student Jordyn Ebert, the team will eventually need a replacement. Bell proved in the exhibition matches that she can succeed Ebert in goal. In the meantime, Ebert will play the position during the 2021 season. She led the team in minutes last season and led the Southern Conference with 96 saves, according to Mercer Athletics. Other team leaders include Cook, who was an All-Conference Freshman last season, and leading scorer Fordham. The women’s team will have their first matchup against Georgia State University Aug. 19. Men’s soccer The men’s team kicked off their season with a friendly matchup against Campbell University Sunday, losing by a 4-1 score at home. The Bears’ lone goal was scored by Logan Longo off of a corner kick from Dylan Gaither. The goal came in the 28th minute and gave the Bears a 1-0 lead, but the advantage did not last. The Fighting Camels scored two goals less than 10 minutes later and eventually tacked on two more. Despite the low goal total, Mercer had many opportunities on offense. The team tallied seven corner kicks and 14 shots on goal. Many of these opportunities came during the final 20 minutes of the match, but the Bears couldn’t capitalize. Mercer’s season shows promise despite the exhibition loss. Two Mercer players, Gaither and Ousman Jabang, were both awarded preseason honors by the Southern Conference. The Bears were also tied for third in the conference’s preseason poll, according to Mercer Athletics. Gaither, a rising junior and midfielder, tallied a team-leading five goals last season for Mercer. Two of his goals were game-winning goals against Georgia Southern University and Jacksonville. Jabang, a defender, contributed to Mercer’s two shutouts last season with solid defense and even scored a goal of his own against Wofford. The Bears will play one more exhibition match against University of Alabama at Birmingham this Saturday at Betts Stadium. They open their official schedule with a home game against Gardner-Webb Aug. 26.
Mercer officially joined the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge last Thursday, according to the university. The school will participate in the program at the request of the White House and the U.S Department of Education.The College Vaccine Challenge advocates for colleges and universities around the country to offer vaccinations for campus communities. The challenge has three “key actions,” according to the White House: engaging every student, faculty, and staff member; organizing college communities; and delivering vaccine access for all.Mercer joins the initiative after making vaccinations available to the campus community in late March and early April. Mercer Director of Student Health Dr. Lynn Denny encourages Mercer students to get vaccinated.“It is important for the whole Mercer community to get vaccinated to prevent COVID-19 illness in our students, faculty and staff, as well as our loved ones,” Denny said to The Den.The university continues to offer vaccines throughout the summer but has not announced that it will require students and staff to be vaccinated this fall, although they do “strongly encourage” it, according to The Den. Masks will not be required for vaccinated students and employees at Mercer this fall.Mercer University President Bill Underwood also emphasized the importance of the vaccine in an email to students April 13.“I encourage all of you who have not yet been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible,” Underwood said. “The vaccination sites on our campuses could not be more convenient. By getting vaccinated, you will help us achieve herd immunity in our nation and community.”Mercer is one of eight Georgia colleges and universities to join the College Vaccine Challenge as of June 15, according to the White House’s COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge page. Other Georgia schools that have joined the initiative include Georgia Southern University and Emory University.The College Vaccine Challenge is intended to build on President Joe Biden’s program matching federal pharmacy program partners with high-enrollment community colleges to provide vaccines. The community college program was introduced May 11, and the College Vaccine Challenge was announced June 3.Students and employees can schedule vaccination appointments here or find more information on Mercer’s updated COVID-19 policies here.
[related title="Related Stories" stories="28404,28401,28037,28301" align="right" background="on" border="all" shadow="off"] Mercer officially joined the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge last Thursday, according to the university. The school will participate in the program at the request of the White House and the U.S Department of Education. The College Vaccine Challenge advocates for colleges and universities around the country to offer vaccinations for campus communities. The challenge has three “key actions,” according to the White House: engaging every student, faculty, and staff member; organizing college communities; and delivering vaccine access for all. Mercer joins the initiative after making vaccinations available to the campus community in late March and early April. Mercer Director of Student Health Dr. Lynn Denny encourages Mercer students to get vaccinated. “It is important for the whole Mercer community to get vaccinated to prevent COVID-19 illness in our students, faculty and staff, as well as our loved ones,” Denny said to The Den. The university continues to offer vaccines throughout the summer but has not announced that it will require students and staff to be vaccinated this fall, although they do “strongly encourage” it, according to The Den. Masks will not be required for vaccinated students and employees at Mercer this fall. Mercer University President Bill Underwood also emphasized the importance of the vaccine in an email to students April 13. “I encourage all of you who have not yet been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible,” Underwood said. “The vaccination sites on our campuses could not be more convenient. By getting vaccinated, you will help us achieve herd immunity in our nation and community.” Mercer is one of eight Georgia colleges and universities to join the College Vaccine Challenge as of June 15, according to the White House’s COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge page. Other Georgia schools that have joined the initiative include Georgia Southern University and Emory University. The College Vaccine Challenge is intended to build on President Joe Biden’s program matching federal pharmacy program partners with high-enrollment community colleges to provide vaccines. The community college program was introduced May 11, and the College Vaccine Challenge was announced June 3. Students and employees can schedule vaccination appointments here or find more information on Mercer’s updated COVID-19 policies here.
Note: SGA Vice Presidential Candidate Natalie Yaeger is employed by The Cluster as the Lead Lifestyle & Opinion Writer. This does not contribute to or impact our coverage of her relating to the race. As the SGA Presidential election approaches, the organization’s debate Wednesday allowed candidates to answer questions about their ideas and policies. The debate also let students submit questions to the candidates. Here are the highlights from the debate. The debate format The debate featured the candidates taking turns answering questions from the moderator, The Cluster’s Managing Editor Mary Helene Hall. The candidates were typically given three minutes to respond, with the opposing candidate answering afterwards. The candidate that went first was decided by a coin flip prior to the debate. All candidates were able to answer questions within the time limit. Here are their answers to some of the more important questions and issues of the evening. What are your campaign platforms? Rylan Allen and Natalie Yaeger talked about their three main campaign platforms: diversity, mental health and communication and transparency. These three points for Allen and Yaeger led to discussions on having more diverse texts in the Mercer Integrative Studies and Great Books programs and helping students obtain better counseling from Counseling and Psychological Services. The four platform ideas for Ashton Bearden and Caleb Mills are transparency, sustainability, accountability and health and wellness. The duo addressed the problems with Mercer’s lack of recycling as well as creating a way to spread awareness about mental, physical and sexual health by creating a committee to work with Mercer facilities and administration on those areas. What is the job of an SGA officer? Both campaigns answered this question swiftly and passionately, largely agreeing on the role of an SGA officer. Bearden and Mills emphasized the importance of communication and advocating for the student body. Allen and Yaeger reiterated this point in their own response. “That is our job: to help all of you and to represent all of you,” Yaeger said. “We are only good if we work together (...) That’s the only way we are going to make a stronger Mercer and stronger community as a whole.” Both campaigns aligned on this issue, stating that the job of SGA members is to represent the student body and fix issues within the university. How will you communicate with administration? What if you disagree? A key part of being an SGA president or vice president is addressing student needs and problems in discussions with the Mercer administration. In response to this question, Bearden and Mills made their dedication to persistence clear on the topic of discussion with administration. “Something that’s very important is not just telling someone, ‘Oh, I want you to do that,’ but actually following up,” Mills said. “If they don’t really want to do something that we’re proposing, just asking, ‘Hey, do you have a solution,’ just wearing them down to make sure we’re getting some response and getting something done." Allen and Yaeger leaned more towards addressing the communication part of the question, emphasizing keeping students informed. Allen mentioned the mural that was removed from Mercer Village last year as a clear example of administration not communicating with students, as many students did not know why it was removed. Allen says that acting as a link between students and administration will lead to better communication between the two. “A lot of students didn’t know anything about (the mural), but the administration told us that it was a contracted mural and it was not supposed to stay,” Allen said. “But it would have been nice for students to know about that so they could have expressed their disliking for the removal of that. What we want to do is create clear communication channels between administration and ourselves to you so that way you feel that SGA actually represents you all.” How do we know you aren’t running just to build your resume? Both candidates acknowledged that the office might be a resume booster, but said that being president is not about the title. “My intention for this position is not my resume. I was vice president last year,” Bearden said. “When I was thinking about running for this position, I didn’t want to do it this year (…) but I had already spent three years on SGA. I felt that I should use that experience to bring up new leaders and advocate for the students.” Allen had a similar response, citing his status as class president for the prior two years and his use of that position to connect with students in the past. “If you are sophomores in here, you’ve probably gotten dozens of emails from me, and I’m sorry, but hey, the reason why I’m doing that is to make sure you know what’s going on around campus and what’s going on with administration,” Allen said. “I also make sure that under my email signature is my phone number, and I use social media a lot.” What can you do that your opponent cannot or is not willing to do? This question gave the candidates an opportunity to explain why they are unique, and both campaign teams took advantage of that.Allen stressed the importance of his campaign team’s diversity, specifically citing his ability to connect with students of color and LGBTQIA+ students at Mercer. “There's only been two Black SGA presidents on campus,” Allen said. “I believe that when students elect the president, they want to make sure that they elect the presidential and vice presidential candidate that they feel will be able to advocate for them, go through the same life experiences as they do so they understand what students want.” Allen backed this point by highlighting his ability to represent those groups. “Being a Black man, I'm also a gay man. I believe that students on this campus that come from the LGBTQ and minority community are able to resonate with the wider view of the person, which means that they think I can actually advocate for one as well,” Allen said. Bearden and Mills emphasized their goal of representing everyone, particularly women, by creating a more diverse staff of SGA members. “You look at us, and you see two men. And you wonder, where is the representation for women,” Bearden said. “That’s why we want to implement the executive board to the president and vice president to be predominantly women, as well as create a student cabinet that would have 24 different backgrounds around campus that would communicate directly with us.” Bearden says that the diverse student cabinet would meet once a month and talk to the president and vice president directly before they meet with University President Bill Underwood and Dean of Students Doug Pearson. Conclusions After the debate, it is clear that both campaign teams place a large emphasis on the topics of mental health and diversity. The candidates also acknowledged the importance of communication and transparency, being sure to promise students that their concerns would be made clear to university administration. As the March 29-30 election date draws near, students will decide which of these two campaign teams to vote for. Students can vote online through their MyMercer and CourseEval accounts.
Mercer’s Student Government Association held its 2021 Presidential Debate in the Connell Student Center Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The event featured discussions between presidential candidates Rylan Allen and Ashton Bearden and vice presidential candidates Natalie Yeager and Caleb Mills. Bearden, current SGA vice president, is running with SGA Senator Caleb Mills, while Sophomore Class President Rylan Allen is running alongside SGA Senator-at-Large Natalie Yaeger. The Allen and Bearden campaign teams were each asked questions about their campaign platforms, how they aim to help represent the student body to Mercer’s administration and the role of SGA officers. Both candidates said they were satisfied following the debate. “We were able to get all the platform ideas out there and express them,” Bearden said. “It was a little tough for me personally, because you’re in a room full of people and really pouring your heart out, trying to express themselves and present what you’re about. Overall, I loved it. It was a great experience.” Allen said he agreed with Bearden on the success of the debate and also expressed gratitude for the student turnout. “I think the debate went really well. We saw a big turnout of students. Students were actually coming out and trying to understand what all the candidates were running for,” Allen said. “There were not too many to prevent social distancing, and it gave us an audience to directly talk to about our platforms.” According to SGA President Savannah Lackey, about 75 people total — both in-person and over Zoom — were in attendance. The debate was moderated by The Cluster’s Managing Editor Mary Helene Hall and consisted of two sections of questions. During the first phase of debate, Hall asked both candidates questions that they were to answer in the given time frame. Candidates were typically given three minutes to respond to questions. The second phase of the debate featured Hall asking questions submitted by students prior to the debate. These questions ranged from inquiries about Mercer’s campus safety to the university’s ongoing fire alarm and wifi problems. Both candidates said they appreciated the student body’s questions. “I think they were all important questions that needed to be asked — students really do care about what goes on around campus, and they really do want to know who they’re voting for,” Allen said. “They were vetted really well and allowed us to fairly and accurately respond.” Bearden said he agreed with Allen on the importance of the student questions. “I think the questions were fully fleshed out and they allowed us to express our viewpoints,” Bearden said. “It allowed us to correctly communicate between everybody. I’m glad people came and were able to hear us.” The debate began at 7 p.m. and lasted until around 8 p.m., and featured in-person attendance in the Connell Student Center as well as the option for students to attend via Zoom call. The debate also marked the first SGA Presidential debate since 2018, according to the organization. The SGA Presidential Elections will be held Mar. 29 and Mar. 30. Students can vote online or in person at the Connell Student Center.
Mercer’s men’s basketball team fell in the Southern Conference Championship Game on Sunday, losing to the University of North Carolina Greensboro by a score of 69-61. Mercer was able to keep pace with the top-seeded UNCG Spartans for the majority of the game, but fell behind in the final minutes and could not recover. Mercer Head Coach Greg Gary said that missing crucial late shots led to the Bears’ demise. “I know we had good looks,” Gary said. “We gotta knock them down, and unfortunately we didn't knock them down today. But we're going to be here again, and guys got to learn from it.” With the game tied at 58-58 with just four minutes remaining, Mercer allowed eight unanswered UNCG points, making the score 66-58 at the 1:15 mark. The Spartans missed several late free throws to keep the Bears in the game, but Mercer failed to hit a single shot from the field for the remainder of the game and ended the evening with a close loss. The Bears were tasked with keeping up with a quick UNCG offense that was captained by Southern Conference Player of the Year Isaiah Miller. Miller scored 25 points on 10-20 shooting from the field, capitalizing on Mercer’s mistakes throughout the game. “We just made some silly mistakes at the end and (you can’t do that) against good teams,” Gary said. “And you got Isaiah Miller out there that makes plays, winning plays, and we just needed to get more of them.” On the offensive side, James Glisson and Leon Ayers III both scored 16 points, followed by Felipe Haase’s 13 points and 10 rebounds. Despite the well-distributed scoring, the Bears could not control the basketball, surrendering 18 turnovers throughout the game. Ross Cummings, who has been a leading scorer for the Bears all season, struggled during the game. He finished with just 5 points in the final game of his career for Mercer. The championship loss comes after a Mercer streak during the tournament consisting of three consecutive wins, including an upset over the No. 2 Wofford Terriers in the quarterfinal round. This was the Bears’ first ever appearance in the Southern Conference championship game since joining the conference in 2015. The Bears will say farewell to departing senior Cummings and hope to retool for the 2021-22 season following the tournament exit.
Mercer University hosted a watch party on the main street of Mercer Village for its men's basketball team’s championship game Monday night. The watch party featured a two-story projection screen to display the game, which aired on ESPN. Mercer also provided picnic tables. Students, faculty and staff were invited to attend the event. Masks and social distancing were required. The watch party resulted in the closure of the stretch of Montpelier Avenue that passes through the Mercer Village area. Traffic cones were placed at either end of the stretch of road to prevent drivers from entering Mercer Village in their vehicles as the watch party was set up. Mercer officials announced the watch party Monday between noon and 1 p.m. via email and social media. Mercer students were required to move their vehicles from the Mercer Village street parking prior to 3 p.m. Monday to make room for the event. The watch party was scheduled to occur from 6 p.m to 9 p.m, leaving room on either side of the basketball game, which began at 7 p.m. People attending the watch party were encouraged to support local restaurants by ordering dinner from Mercer Village businesses. The watch party was organized after Mercer’s men’s basketball team won three consecutive games to advance to the Southern Conference Championship Game in Asheville, North Carolina. The Bears were the seventh-ranked team in the tournament and had to upset multiple teams to reach the championship. Mercer faced the top-seeded University of North Carolina Greensboro Spartans in the tournament’s championship game. After an exciting game with several lead changes, the Bears were unable to complete the upset and eventually fell to the Spartans by a score of 69-61. Mercer’s women’s basketball team also reached their respective conference championship game this week, although there was no watch party held for the matchup. The game took place Sunday at noon and ended with a 60-38 victory for Mercer over the opposing Wofford Terriers. The championship granted the women’s team an entrance into the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament that begins March 21.
Mercer University’s women’s basketball team stormed their way through the Southern Conference Tournament, winning the championship against the No. 4 Wofford Terriers by a score of 60-38 Sunday in Asheville, North Carolina. Mercer was led to the championship by Amoria Neal-Tysor. Neal-Tysor scored 16 points in the decisive title game, capping off a three-game tournament run in which she averaged over 25 points per game. She was awarded the SoCon Tournament MVP Award at the conclusion of the tournament. The championship marks a turnaround for the Bears, who only won eight games in last year’s season. Mercer won three straight games to take home the title, beating all three opponents by comfortable margins. In their first game of the tournament Thursday, the Bears opened strong with a win against Western Carolina University. The No. 7 Catamounts kept up in the first quarter of play, but ended the first half down by 8 in a 39-31 game. Mercer kept their momentum up in the third quarter, scoring another 19 and holding Western Carolina to just 12 points in the third to extend their lead. Neal-Tysor led the way for the Bears, scoring 27 points in the win. Jada Lewis also had a strong performance for Mercer with 24 points. Mercer led for 38 of 40 minutes, forcing 11 turnovers from the Catamounts. The game ended with a 9-point Bears win by a score of 76-67. The Bears then moved to the Friday semifinal round to face the No. 6 Furman Paladins. A strong first quarter vaulted Mercer into the lead with the Bears scoring 25 points in the first quarter. Another 25 points in the second gave Mercer 50 points at the half and a 50-32 lead over the Paladins. Mercer scored just seven points in the third quarter as their offensive performance faltered. The fourth quarter provided a return to form, though, as both Mercer and Furman kept pace and scored 24 points in the quarter. The Bears held on to a 10-point lead and took home the win by a score of 81-71. Neal-Tysor dominated again for Mercer, scoring 34 points in the game. This included 23 points in the first half alone. Jaron Dougherty followed with 17 points in the matchup. Neal-Tysor and Dougherty’s performances helped lead Mercer to their fifth conference championship game in six years. The title game went similarly for Mercer. The Bears held Wofford to just 25% shooting from the field, including a stretch of more than 14 minutes during the second and third quarters where Wofford failed to make a single shot. With just 12 points in the second and third quarters combined, the Terriers could not score against Mercer’s defense. The Bears were able to pull away and secure the championship. This championship win grants Mercer a ticket to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, their third trip to the event in the past four years. Mercer’s first round opponent will be determined in the selection show Mar. 15 at 7 p.m.