ATHENS, Ga. – The 13th-seeded Mercer Bears dropped a hard-fought 68-63 decision to 4th-seeded Georgia Lady Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon inside Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga. Kahlia Lawrence scored a game-high 23 points as the Bears' rally fell short in the end, concluding what was a remarkable season and one for the record books.
Stat of the Game
The biggest stat to standout on the sheets was Georgia's ability to score in the post and grab rebounds. The Lady Bulldogs outrebounded Mercer 45-34, while owning the paint, 32-8.
Player of the Game
Sydni Means had an all-around performance today, scoring 11 points, while dishing seven assists and grabbing five rebounds. Means did not turn the ball over once and managed to swipe three steals in the process.
How It Happened
Neither team could grow separation from one another through the first 10 minutes of play as Georgia led by as many as three points. It was Mercer who struck first following Rachel Selph's jumper from the charity stripe for the 2-0 advantage. It didn't take long for KeKe Calloway to catch fire, banking home a three from downtown Macon to become the single-season SoCon leader in three pointers made with 96. Calloway tacked on two more triples, becoming Mercer's all-time leader in career threes. There were five ties in the opening frame with the last being at 14 apiece. Mercer outscored Georgia 5-4 over the final 3:57 to take the 19-18 lead at the break.
The second quarter proved to be much like the first quarter with neither team able to separate from one another. Lawrence registered 10 of Mercer's 12 points in the second quarter, while also assisting on Mercer's other basket with a dish to Sydni Means before the buzzer. The Lady Bulldogs outscored Mercer 16-12 in the second quarter to take the three-point lead, leading by as many as five points and trailing by as many as four.
The Lady Bulldogs owned the first five minutes of the second half, outscoring Mercer 11-3 to take the 45-34 lead. Georgia's Que Morrison scored six of the team's first 11 points in the half to help build the lead. The Bears stormed back to cut the deficit to five with 2:35 remaining in the quarter following a corner three from Calloway. The Lady Bulldogs stretched their lead back to 11, however Mercer proved resilient yet again, trimming the deficit to four at the conclusion of the quarter. With just five seconds remaining, LaKaitlin Wright pulled down a Georgia miss and found Lawrence for a three-point attempt at the buzzer. Lawrence missed the shot but was fouled and capitalized on all three attempts from the charity stripe to trim the Georgia lead to 52-48 with 10 minutes remaining.
The fourth-quarter went back-and-forth, despite Georgia never relinquishing the lead. Mercer cut the deficit to one possession 11 times in the fourth quarter, but could not get over the hump as the Lady Bulldogs held on to outscore Mercer 16-15 in the final 10 minutes of play.
» Mercer forced 17 turnovers from Georgia, while only turning the rock over nine times itself. The Bears scored 13 points off the 17 Lady Bulldogs' turnovers.
» KeKe Calloway set the SoCon single-season three-point record with 99 triples on the season.
» Calloway also became Mercer's all-time three-point leader with 219 career three pointers.
» Kahlia Lawrence scored a game-high 23 points, while Calloway (15) and Means (11) joined the senior guard in double digits. Amanda Thompson finished the game with eight points and 11 boards.
"As a coach this time of year you never really have the right words after a game that was so hard fought. Obviously Georgia's a great team. We knew we had our hands full with [Caliya] Robinson and [Mackenzie] Engram and from the get-go that's what it was. And they really hurt us in the first half especially, but we kept fighting. We played hard and have ourselves a chance and that's all you can ask for, to give yourself a chance. I am very, very proud of this team."
On the accomplishments of Mercer's senior class…
"You know, these guys have talked about this, they [the seniors] came when we weren't very good. It was a program that wasn't winning and we convinced them that we were going to do something special. That's how I recruited them and that's what they did. They're great people. They came every day, if you get to know them as people they represent our university. They make good grades, they don't get in trouble and they do all the things right. They were just brought up right. They came to us and they make my job easier because they came every day to work. They had dreams, they had goals and just a fun group to be around. I'm so thankful."
» Mercer: 30-3
» Georgia: 26-6