JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In its first meeting against Atlantic Sun newcomer North Florida, the Mercer women's basketball team couldn't hit its stride offensively in the second half and fell to the Lady Ospreys, 66-61.
North Florida (6-10, 4-4 A-Sun) opened the first half quickly with a 7-2 run with Jackie Beik hitting a trey and lay-up for the Lady Ospreys. Mercer struggled to find its offensive groove early in the opening frame, and trailed by as many as nine twice.
The Bears (8-7, 5-3 A-Sun) picked up their defensive intensity, which lead to its offense firing on all pistons. After Megan delaRosa's 3-pointer tied the game at 24, Mercer scored four of the final six points in the first half to take a 28-26 lead at the break.
The Lady Ospreys opened the second half with a 9-2 run, taking a 35-30 lead they would never surrender. UNF eventually pushed its lead to 11 with five minutes remaining, but Mercer rallied.
TaShera Lewis helped the Bears cut the lead down to three after a lay-up with 44 seconds remaining in the game. Unfortunately, Mercer was unable to trim the lead any further.
Three players finished in double digits for UNF, as Beik led the team with 14 points. Tamara Hubbard and Andrea Dill each had 11, while Jennifer Bowen grabbed seven rebounds.
Mercer also had three players finish in double figures. Lewis had a career-high 14 points, while Tanya Kessenich had 11. Sarah Russell collected her second straight double-double, grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds and adding 10 points.
“We played good defense, but couldn’t knock down any shots and get into an offensive flow,” said Mercer head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols. “Our defense has kept us in games, but we need to keep working to find the offense that suits us.”
Mercer returns to action Thursday when it hosts A-Sun newcomer Kennesaw State at 7 p.m.