The women's basketball team hits the University Center floor for the final two times in the 2008-09 season this weekend, starting its final homestand with a Thursday clash against A-Sun foe Lipscomb, tipping off at 7 p.m.
The Bears will also participate in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Pink Zone initiative during Thursday’s meeting against the Lady Bisons. The team will wear pink uniforms and have special guest speakers and giveaways planned: all designed to bring awareness to the dangers and prevention of breast cancer.
A local men’s church choir will sing the national anthem prior to tip-off, and former Mercer student and breast cancer survivor Catherine Carswell will speak to the crowd at halftime. Carswell was diagnosed with cancer at age 21 and now spends her time speaking at events and helping to raise awareness of the disease.
At 9-7 in conference play, the Bears (13-12) have clinched at least a fourth seed for the Atlantic Sun tournament next month (FGCU, Kennesaw State, USC Upstate and UNF are all ineligible for the postseason tournament due to transfer regulations). Mercer is still chasing Belmont and Jacksonville for a possible second or third seed into the tournament and is not yet mathematically eliminated from the top spot, though an ETSU win this weekend would put the Bears out of the running.
Mercer heads back to Macon having earned a split in Florida last weekend, knocking off Stetson on Thursday before putting up a fierce battle against conference top dogs FGCU. For the second time this season, Mercer played the Eagles extremely tough, and for the second time this season, the Bears left the arena with just a heartbreaking loss to show for their efforts. Playing with real intensity on both sides of the ball, Mercer dictated play for the majority of the contest, showing that they can play with anyone in the conference.
Up by six with five minutes to go, however, the A-Sun’s best offense came to life, as a late FGCU spurt sent the Bears home from Alico Arena with a 65-58 loss.
Senior Natasha Doh comes into Thursday’s contest as one of the Bears hottest players. Doh posted a career-high 23 points against FGCU, 12 of which came in a second half in which she was nearly unstoppable off the dribble. The Oklahoma City native has now scored in double-digits in four of her last five games, averaging 12.8 points per game over that time frame: tied for tops on the team with fellow guard Courtney Ford.
The Lady Bisons, meanwhile, currently sit at the bottom of the A-Sun standings, having posted a 5-20 record this season and a 3-13 mark in conference play. Lipscomb got back-to-back wins over Campbell and Belmont early in the new year, only to drop the next nine straight conference meetings after that to slide down the charts.
The Lady Bisons do come into Macon with some momentum, however, having topped USC Upstate by a healthy 94-77 margin last Saturday. Jenna Bartsokas leads Lipscomb with 11.4 points per game, while Cree Nix pulls in a team-best 7.4 rebounds each time out.
Outstanding team defense from the Bears earned them a 64-48 victory the last time these two teams got together on Jan. 24 in Nashville, Tenn. Mercer held the Lady Bisons without a field goal for over a 13-minute stretch in the opening stanza, using a 27-3 run during that time to jump out to an insurmountible 20-point halftime lead. Lipscomb could shoot just 26.8 percent from the floor against a rampant Bears defense, while Mercer’s Courtney Ford recorded her second double-double of the season with a 14-point, 11-board effort in dispatching the Lady Bisons.
Mercer has never captured a season sweep of the Lady Bisons: something the Bears could accomplish with a win over Lipscomb on Thursday night. Tip-off in the game is set for 7 p.m., and fans can follow the action live via A-Sun TV at www.atlanticsun.org.
For more information on Catherine Carswell, the Bears’ guest speaker for tomorrow night’s game, please visit her website at http://m1e.net/c?22987526-zVgSEiAKtv0uo%403997221-dw4yQC.PmM7nQ