JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Expecting a challenge on the road, the Mercer women's basketball team stepped up and knocked off its first opponent on its two-game road trip. Three players finished with double digits as Mercer defeated Jacksonville, 66-59.
Mercer (8-6, 5-2 A-Sun) struggled to find its offensive groove in the first half, committing 10 turnovers but didn't fall too far behind as the teams swapped buckets most of the half. Jacksonville (3-11, 0-7 A-Sun) took an eight-point lead at the 1:59 mark off a 3-pointer from Regina Omoite. The Bears countered with a trey from Megan Lewis, but trailed 33-27 at halftime.
After a slow start to the second half, Mercer went on a 10-0 run to take a lead midway through. Courtney Hall tied things at 40 with a trey, while Sarah Russell and Erin Keller each contributed with a pair of free throws that sandwiched Hall's classic 3-point play conversion as the Bears took a 47-40 lead.
Ashley Williams cut the lead to one for JU when she converted the back end of a 3-point play with 3:18 left. Megan delaRosa stepped in for Rhonda Owens and made a free throw with under two minutes, giving Mercer a two-point lead. Keller made a lay-up and hit two free throws to give Mercer a six-point lead, putting the pressure on the Dolphins.
JU was unable to mount a serious offensive counterattack, despite Sheena Carpenter's desperation 3-pointer with four seconds left.
Williams led all scorers with 21 and grabbed nine rebounds for JU, while Carpenter finished with 15. DaVina Hamilton and Virginia Gregoire each had eight rebounds.
Russell notched her second career double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Megan Lewis came off the bench to add a career-high 13 points. Courtney Hall, making her first career start, finished with 12 points on 3-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.
"We were sluggish in the first half, but played with a lot of heart and guts in the second half," said Mercer head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols. "We battled back with our defensive pressure in the second half, and everybody fought hard."
The Bears return to action Saturday when they take on A-Sun newcomer North Florida. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m.