UNC Asheville Edges Mercer, 76-73
MACON, Ga. – Mercer placed three players in double figure scoring, but UNC Asheville erased a six-point deficit with 4:04 to go and ultimately prevailed, 76-73 in Wednesday afternoon’s non-conference women’s basketball game.
UNC Asheville moved to 6-4 on the year while Mercer fell to 1-9.
Mercer sophomore Kendra Grant led the Bears in scoring for the third-straight game, tallying 18 points against the Bulldogs. Freshman Briana Williams chipped in 13 points while her classmate Brittnee Hazel added 12 points.
With just over four minutes remaining, Mercer held a 67-61 advantage when UNC Asheville’s Lindsey Montgomery was fouled trying to convert a fast-break layup. Montgomery hit both of her free throw attempts, sparking an 8-0 run that saw the Bulldogs take their first lead of the game with 3:15 to go in regulation.
With one minute to go, Mercer trailed by one (72-71) and held possession. The Bears missed two jumpers, but each time Grant tracked down the offensive rebound to give the hosts another crack at a lead.
After Grant’s second board, Williams beat her defender off the dribble and created just enough space to convert a layup and regain the advantage for Mercer with 37 seconds to go.
UNC Asheville raced back down the court and Montgomery dished to Kelli Riles for the eventual game-winning layup with 27 seconds on the game clock.
The Bulldogs sealed the victory by forcing Mercer into a turnover on its next possession.
“We left one of their shooters open on two possessions in a row, got them back in the game and got them excited,” Gardner said. “When we spread out the zone out to contain shooters, they dribble penetrated right through us.”
Mercer started the game on a 7-0 surge and carried that momentum to a 37-29 halftime lead. Mercer out-shot and out-rebounded the opponent in the opening 20 minutes.
Grant scored 13 of her 18 points in the first half. Freshman point guard Sharnea Boykin dished five assists and yielded zero turnovers in the opening frame.
"It was probably the most consistent first half we’ve that this year,” Gardner said. “We came out on fire and had a lot of intensity.”
Boykin finished with 10 assists, two turnovers and a steal in 39 minutes of action. Grant added seven rebounds and four assists her to team-high scoring effort.
Mercer returns to action at Georgia Tech on Dec. 28. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.