MACON, Ga. – After seeing a halftime lead quickly gobbled up in the second half, a shooting surge led the Mercer women's basketball team to a 60-55 victory over Stetson on Homecoming night. The win also gives the Bears their first sweep over the Hatters since the 1998-99 season.
Stetson (5-16, 3-11 A-Sun) jumped out to an early lead, as Nefertiti Walker scored eight of the Hatters' first 13 points. Mercer slowly responded with a jumper and trey from Courtney Hall, cutting the lead down to four midway through the first half. The teams battled back and forth heading into halftime, but Mercer (11-9, 8-5 A-Sun) methodically built a 27-23 lead at the break behind a pair of jumpers from Megan Lewis.
The Hatters opened the second half on fire, going on an 18-4 run. Walker hit a pair of treys, while Janene Maclin worked the post for five points during the run. Trailing by 10, the Bears woke up from their slumber and pounded the paint. Tanya Kessenich and TaShera Lewis combined to score eight points during a six-minute stretch as Mercer closed the gap to two.
Rhonda Owens tied the game on a layup with 4:42 left. Kessenich provided Mercer with a scoring surge down the stretch, scoring on three consecutive possessions to give the Bears a 58-54 lead with 1:15 remaining.
Walker was unable to provide any heroics for the Hatters down the stretch as the last Stetson field goal came with 8:08 left in the game. The senior led all scorers with 31 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
"Our defense was a little shaky at times," said Mercer head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols. "Our fans stepped up and made some noise, which gave our girls a spark."
Kessenich led the Bears with 11 points, while Hall added 10 along with seven rebounds. After missing last weekend because of an injury, Sally Skeldon made a difference with the offense as she had nine assists.
"Our offense finally started clicking late in the game. Tanya did a great job in the post," added Nichols, as Mercer shot 51.9 percent from the field in the second half.
The Bears return to action Sunday when they travel to Boca Raton, Fla., to battle second place Florida Atlantic. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m. at the FAU Arena.