No. 1 seed Mercer 55, No. 8 seed Western Carolina 32
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The top-seeded Mercer Bears got the Ingles Southern Conference Championship presented by General Shale off to a strong start. The Bears topped No. 8 Western Carolina 55-32 on Thursday.
The Catamounts scored the game’s first basket on the initial possession. Judith Martin Ruiz beat the shot clock with a jumper just inside the 3-point arc. They kept Mercer from making its first shot until 6:41 on Amanda Thompson’s layup. But as mentioned, the Bears’ defense was on red alert.
They took control of the game, stopping Western on 10 straight possessions and building an 11-2 lead. The Catamounts book-ended a KeKe Calloway triple with Gabby Smith’s layup and an Angel Allen 3 to close the advantage to 14-7.
It was all Bears from there. They outscored the upset-minded Cats 13-3 over the next 12 minutes for a 27-10 halftime advantage. The score did not get closer than 16 the rest of the way.
Callaway carried Mercer early, scoring 12 of her game-high 18 in the opening half. Thompson helped control the glass by grabbing 17 rebounds in just 19 minutes of playing time, with 14 coming on the defensive end. The Bears were +16 for the game on the boards.
Jewel Smalls paced the Catamounts with 11 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Angel Allen added 10.
No. 1 Mercer 23-7 | No. 8 Western Carolina 4-26
3 Notes to Know
- 32 points are the fewest in SoCon tournament history. The prior low was 33 by UNCG against Chattanooga in the 2008 quarterfinals in North Charleston, South Carolina.
- 87 total points in the contest is the lowest combined output. It beat 93 points in a 48-45 Furman win over Chattanooga in the 1995 first round in Greenville, South Carolina.
- Amanda Thompson’s 17 rebounds through three quarters of playing time, just 19 minutes, did not quite reach the record. The tourney mark is 22, completed first by ETSU’s Katie Beck vs. Chattanooga in 1988 and later matched by Shannon Thomas (Appalachian State), also against the Mocs, in 1990.
3 Stats to Know
- Mercer shot 55.6 percent (5-for-9) from outside the 3-point arc and 37.0 percent (17-for-46) inside it.
- Jewel Smalls’ four steals marked her 15th multi-steal game of the season. Her total tied for her second-most behind the five taken away at Tennessee Tech on Nov. 19. She also nabbed four against Gardner-Webb on Jan. 2.
- Fifth time this campaign Western scored less than 40 … First time the Bears limited the opposition to less than 40.
No. 5 seed Wofford 75, No. 4 seed ETSU 66
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – No. 5 seed Wofford pulled away to a 75-66 win over No. 4 ETSU in the quarterfinals of the Ingles Southern Conference Women’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale. The Terriers dominated the middle quarters to earn a date with top seed Mercer on Friday at 11 a.m.
Wofford came out of the break down six, but it didn’t take long to get to the game’s one lead change. Chloe Wanink’s 3-pointer capped an 11-3 run to start the period over 2:50 of clock time, giving her squad a 34-33 advantage.
The Bucs tied it twice on layups by Sadasia Tipps and Britney Snowden. The Terriers outscored their foes 11-3 over the final 6:22, heading into the fourth with a 49-41 lead.
ETSU threatened midway through the fourth. Free throws from Kaia Upton and another Snowden layup cut the lead to four, but Wofford had the answer. Leading 55-51 after Snowden’s basket, Jamari McDavid started a 14-2 spurt that ended with three Da’Ja Green free throws. It was never in doubt from there.
Green led the Terriers with 22 points, six rebounds, eight assists and four steals, playing all 40 minutes. Wanink added 16. Micah Scheetz led all scorers with 23 for the Bucs. Erica Hayes-Overton chipped in 14 points and eight boards.
No. 5 Wofford 16-14 | No. 4 ETSU 10-21
3 Notes to Know
- Wofford’s first semifinal appearance since 2002 in Charleston, South Carolina. Lost in overtime to eventual champion Chattanooga, 65-61.
- Since ETSU’s return to the league in 2015, it’s been feast or famine. The Bucs were runners-up in 2015 (Chattanooga) and 2018 (Mercer) while losing in the quarters in 2016, 2017 and 2019.
- The Terriers’ 75 points are their second-most points scored in 30 tourney games. One off the total tallied in a 2001 first-round win over Davidson (76-62) in Greenville, South Carolina.
3 Stats to Know
- The Terriers outscored ETSU 39-19 over the second and third quarters to take command of the game. The Bucs held a 22-10 advantage after the opening 10 minutes.
- There were 42 turnovers between the two schools. Wofford scored 31 points off 23 by ETSU, while the Bucs netted 20 on 19 Terrier miscues.
- The teams combined for 16 blocks with a season-high 10 for Wofford. The six for ETSU marked the seventh time this year with five or more.
2019 Ingles Southern Conference Women’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale schedule
Thursday, March 7
Game 1 – No. 1 Mercer 55, No. 8 Western Carolina 32
Game 2 – No. 5 Wofford 75, No. 4 ETSU 66
Game 3 – No. 2 Furman vs. No. 7 Samford, 3:30 p.m.^
Game 4 – No. 3 Chattanooga vs. No. 6 UNCG, 5:45 p.m.^
^ - Denotes approximate game time. The first game on March 7 will have a firm start time. Each game thereafter will start 30 minutes following the conclusion of the preceding game but will not start prior to the listed time.
Friday, March 8
Game 5 – No. 1 Mercer vs. No. 5 Wofford, 11 a.m.
Game 6 – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 1:15 p.m.
Sunday, March 10
Game 7 – Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 12 p.m.
NOTE: All times Eastern. All games to be broadcast on ESPN+. Sunday’s championship game will air on select Nexstar affiliates