MACON, Ga. – Down two at halftime, the Mercer women's basketball team battled back for a 61-57 win over first-place East Tennessee State Saturday afternoon at the University Center.
A pair of 3-pointers from Erin Keller book sparked an opening run at the beginning of the game for Mercer as Tanya Kessenich, Sarah Russell and Zsaquez Flucker all contributed during the stretch. Michelle DeVault sank a trio of treys during a 14-4 run for Lady Bucs, tying things at 16.
East Tennessee State (12-6, 8-3 A-Sun) jumped out to an eight-point lead to open the second half as DeVault hit a pair of 3-pointers and B.J. Banjo added a trey and layup.
The teams seemed to trade buckets almost every time down court as Mercer (10-7, 7-3 A-Sun) could not take the lead and ETSU could not pull away. Rhonda Owens kept the Bears in the game late, scoring eight of her 10 points in the second half with all five of her rebounds coming in the second stanza.
Owens put the Bears ahead with a jumper at 3:04, and assisted on Russell’s jumper a minute late to give Mercer a three-point lead. Candace Gibson brought ETSU within one after hitting a jumper at 1:57.
Sally Skeldon went down hard after a foul from Gibson, and could not shoot her free throws with 47.1 seconds remaining. Megan delaRosa came off the bench and calmly sank both shots, giving Mercer a three-point lead. ETSU failed to score after Gibson’s bucket, and Owens iced the game after hitting the front-end of a 1-and-1 with 27.2 seconds left.
“It was a great win for us,” said Mercer head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols. “Rhonda and Sarah strapped on the boots and came to play in the second half.”
DeVault led all scorers with 21 points, shooting 5-for-10 from 3-point range. Banjo had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Gibson grabbed five boards.
Keller led the Bears with 12 points on 4-for-4 shooting from behind the arc, while Owens finished with 10. Russell narrowly missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. Flucker grabbed a career-high nine rebounds.
The Bears return to action Thursday when they travel to Nashville to face Belmont. Tip-off is slated for 5:30 p.m. CT.