MACON, Ga. – After dropping two straight on the road, the Mercer women's basketball team returns to the friendly confines of the University Center to face Stetson Friday. Game Notes (pdf)
The Bears (10-9, 7-5 A-Sun) are undefeated at home in conference play this season, building a 6-0 mark with upsets of Belmont and East Tennessee State. Despite their successes this season, February has been traditionally a tough stretch for the Bears under Brenda Welch-Nichols. Mercer is 24-11 (.686) in January under Nichols, but just 11-16 (.407) in February, including two road losses last weekend.
The Hatters (5-15, 3-10 A-Sun) have been up and down all season, failing to put together anything more than a two-game winning streak. Stetson is 0-12 on the road this season, including a 0-7 mark against conference opponents.
Preseason Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Nefertiti Walker is the motor that makes the Hatters go, leading the team and conference with 20.5 points per game. She can shoot from anywhere, shooting 33.1 percent from behind the arc, 91.9 percent from the charity stripe and 36.7 overall from the field.
After scoring just three points in the first half, Walker exploded for 17 in the second half of the season's first contest in DeLand. The senior exploded for 31 points in Wednesday's overtime win against Florida Atlantic, going 10-for-10 from the line.
"Stetson is coming off a big win over FAU, so they're going to come in here and play with confidence," said Nichols. "They're very aggressive. I expect them to come in here and battle. Dee Romine is a good coach, and I expect her team to be prepared."
The point guard duo of Sally Skeldon and Rhonda Owens led Mercer to a 53-44 victory over Stetson on Jan. 5. Skeldon and Owens tied their career highs with 11 and 12 points, respectively, while combining for six assists. Free throw shooting made the difference as the Bears went 10-for-13 at the charity stripe in the second half, while the Hatters hit 5-of-9.
"We're coming off two losses where we played hard. We've had some good practices and have been working on fundamentals. Hopefully, we can step up and defend our home court," Nichols said.
Tip-off is schedule for 4:30 p.m. at the University Center.