MACON, Ga. – With strong defense and good free throw shooting, the Mercer women's basketball team extended its winning streak to three Thursday night. The Bears defeated Atlantic Sun preseason favorite Lipscomb, 50-46, Thursday night at the University Center.
Lipscomb (3-9, 2-3 A-Sun) opened the game with a 12-2 run over the first 5:32, taking advantage of its size in the post and executed an inside-outside game plan. Catie Woods hit two 3-pointers and Rachel Viehmann hit a pair of jumpers, while Penny Jones added a pair of free throws.
The Bears (6-6, 3-2 A-Sun) clawed their way into the game and cut the Lady Bisons' lead down to five, 16-11, midway through the first half after TaShera Lewis converted the back end of a classic 3-point play. The team swapped buckets afterwards, but Lipscomb was never able to pull away and Mercer was unable to tie things up.
"With 3:38 left in the first half, I told the players we needed to be up at halftime," said Mercer head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols. "I think that was really the turning point of the game. We focused on defense and our offensive came from that."
A pair of treys from Courtney Hall brought new life to the Bears, who took a one-point lead with 18 seconds remaining on a Sarah Russell lay-up. The Lady Bisons countered with a free throw, sending the teams into halftime tied at 28.
Lipscomb took a six-point lead nearly four minutes into the second half, but Mercer answered with a 12-point swing and led 44-38 with 8:35 remaining. The remainder of the game became a defensive struggle, but the Bears held their ground and held the Lady Bisons scoreless for a six-minute streak late in the game.
Rhonda Owens connected on some crucial free throws to ice the game and sealed the deal when she picked off a Lipscomb pass in the final seconds.
Woods led all scorers with 14 while Katie Beth Pate was held to just two points.
Tanya Kessenich finished with 10 points and four blocks, while Hall had a team-high 11 for the Bears. Sally Skeldon had seven assists, four steals and a block.
Mercer returns to action Saturday against A-Sun foe Belmont at the University Center. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m.