ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Top seed Mercer got by No. 2 Furman to win its second straight Ingles Southern Conference Women’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale. The Bears came back from a six-point deficit for the 66-63 triumph.
Rachel Selph’s layup with 26.8 seconds left gave her Bears a three-point lead as Furman took over at mid-court following a timeout. Le’Jzae Davidson got the ball up top for a deep 3-pointer that looked good coming in but came off the rim into Amanda Thompson’s hands. She was fouled with 14.4 remaining.
Thompson missed both free tosses, setting up another Paladin timeout and all the drama March Madness defines. Thompson got a hand on Davidson’s 3-point effort from the left baseline.
Milica Manojlovic grabbed the offensive board, dribbled out front then pivoted and found Davidson open in the corner. Her 3-point attempt arced and just rolled off at the final buzzer.
Tournament Most Outstanding Player KeKe Calloway scored 30 points to pace the Bears. Shannon Titus added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Furman was led by Taylor Petty’s career-high 22 points. Celena Taborn chipped in 15.
Tierra Hodges gave the Paladins a 52-46 advantage with 8:47 to go in the final period. It was a five-point lead, 56-51, when the Bears made their movie.
The Paladins were held without a field goal for nearly six minutes as the Bears clawed their way back. Titus’s free throws with 2:59 remaining gave her team the lead for good.
Mercer collects the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. The Bears learn their travel plans on Monday, March 18, when the bracket is revealed on ESPN at 7 p.m.
No. 1 Mercer 25-7 | No. 2 Furman 19-13
Most Outstanding Player: KeKe Calloway (Mercer)
First Team: Tierra Hodges (Furman), Taylor Petty (Furman), KeKe Calloway (Mercer), Amanda Thompson (Mercer), Shannon Titus (Mercer)
Second Team: Lakelyn Bouldin (Chattanooga), Da’Ja Green (Wofford), Le’Jzae Davidson (Furman), Celena Taborn (Furman), Rachel Selph (Mercer)
Pinnacle Award (highest GPA on championship-winning team)
Amanda Thompson (Mercer)
3 Notes to Know
- Mercer captured its second straight SoCon title. The program has reached the league final in four of five seasons since joining in 2014-15 and is 11-3 (.786) in tourney contests.
- The win extends the Bears’ 40-game winning streak against SoCon opposition, including regular-season and tournament matchups. The record is 61 set by the Chattanooga Mocs from January 2013 through January 2016.
- Mercer’s senior class has won 80 percent of its games with a 104-26 mark. The Bears captured two SoCon titles and reached the championship game all four years.
3 Stats to Know
- Calloway’s 30 points are the most in a SoCon Championship game since Chattanooga’s Alex Anderson tallied 30 in the Mocs’ 2007 title in North Charleston, South Carolina, over Western Carolina. It’s just the fourth 30-plus performance in 36 finals.
- Offensive rebounding gave the Paladins their chance at a third title. They converted 15 offensive rebounds into 22 points. Held a 10-point advantage in second-chance points.
- Mercer held Furman to 34.4 percent shooting, 30.4 percent from 3-point range. For the tournament, opponents managed a meager 29.1 percent (53-for-182), including 20.0 percent (12-for-60) from deep.
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 67, No. 7 Samford 52
Game 4 – No. 3 Chattanooga 72, No. 6 UNCG 62
^ - 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 69, No. 5 Wofford 51
Game 6 – No. 2 Furman 73, No. 3 Chattanooga 67
Sunday, March 10
Game 7 – No. 1 Mercer 66, No. 2 Furman 63
NOTE: All times Eastern. All games to be broadcast on ESPN+. Sunday’s championship game will air on select Nexstar affiliates