MACON, Ga. – After falling to Kennesaw State last Sunday on the road, the Mercer women's basketball team hopes to find better accommodations at home this weekend when it closes out the regular season. The Bears will battle Jacksonville Thursday, a team they have beaten five straight times. Game Notes (pdf)
Mercer (11-14, 8-10) secured a berth in the Atlantic Sun Tournament Tuesday, as Lipscomb lost to Belmont. The Bears would currently enter the tournament as the sixth seed, but could move up depending on other results from this weekend.
Sarah Russell leads Mercer in scoring (11.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.7 rpg), while Tanya Kessenich has exploded offensively in A-Sun play. The senior is second on the squad in scoring (8.8 ppg) and rebounding (5.5), but is averaging 10.2 points against conference foes. Sally Skeldon leads the league in assists (7.09 apg) and ranks second nationally.
Jacksonville (9-16, 6-12 A-Sun) struggled through January, but turned the corner in February. The Dolphins have won five of their last eight games, going 5-3 in the month. Ashley Williams leads the squad in scoring (17.3 ppg), rebounding (7.8 rpg) and blocks (2.16 bpg). Preseason All-Atlantic Sun selection Sheena Carpenter is second in scoring (13.8 ppg) and initiated much of the offense (2.8 apg).
In the first meeting, JU led by six at halftime after shooting 41.2 percent from the field and holding Mercer to 33.3 percent shooting. The second half was a different story, as the Bears started hitting their shots and got to the foul line. Mercer went 20-for-21 at the free throw line in the second half and connected on nearly 48 percent of its shots, while holding Jacksonville to just 27 percent shooting.
"I hope we play with a little attitude," said Mercer head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols. "We need to play with a little strut in our stuff."
Mercer leads the all-time series 9-4, including a 5-1 mark in Macon. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. at the University Center.