MACON, Ga. – After extending its winning streak to four games with an overtime victory over Belmont last Saturday, the Mercer women's basketball team looks to continue its winning ways in 2006 when it travels to Jacksonville, Fla., for a two-game A-Sun set against Jacksonville and North Florida. Game Notes (pdf)
Mercer (7-6, 4-2 A-Sun) has thrived off defense during its four-game winning streak as the Bears have held opponents to 31.6 percent shooting. The Bears have also executed at the free throw line, shooting 75.5 percent during the four-game stretch.
Sarah Russell, who had a career-high 20 points against Belmont, leads Mercer in scoring (11.5 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg). Bench play has also been vital during the stretch, as the Bears have averaged 26.3 points off the pine during the four-game winning streak.
"Our defense has saved us in a lot of games. I've been telling the players that, if you play good defense, your offense will come in time," said Mercer head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols. "We've been playing very good defense lately and hopefully that will translate into our offensive play."
Jacksonville (3-10, 0-6 A-Sun) has struggled in the new year, dropping five in a row. Despite inconsistent results, the Dolphins have been hitting their stride offensively with 40 percent shooting from the field and a lethal 1-2 punch in Ashley Williams and Sheena Carpenter.
Williams leads the squad in scoring (15.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg), and is fifth in the A-Sun respectively in both categories. Carpenter, a preseason All-Atlantic Sun selection, is second on the squad in scoring (13.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.7 rpg), and ranks ninth and sixth respectively in the conference.
"Jacksonville is a very good team. Jill Dunn is a very good coach and will turn that program around. Their record doesn't show how good they are," said Nichols. "They have a lot of good guards who can come off the dribble and score. They're very aggressive and very fast, which could create match-up problems for us."