MACON, Georgia (MERCER ATHLETICS) – The Mercer women's basketball team won its 10th-straight game and head coach Susie Gardner captured her 200th career victory after downing Jacksonville 68-61 on Monday evening at Hawkins Arena.
Mercer's (16-7, 9-2 A-Sun) current 10-game winning streak is its longest since the program turned Division I and is tied for the 11th longest active winning streak in the nation.
Coach Gardner now owns a career record of 200-204 and the milestone victory couldn't have come at a better time against a gritty Jacksonville side.
Senior Sharmesia Smith led four Bears in double-figures with a career-high 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. Joining Smith in the scoring column was sophomore Precious Bridges with 12 points and senior Ry'van Buchanan and sophomore Alicia Williams with 10 points apiece.
In what would be a theme throughout the game, both teams started the contest trading buckets until a lay-up by Buchanan gave Mercer an 18-13 lead with 7:26 remaining in the first half.
The Bears lead swelled to as large as seven points before Jacksonville made a late surge. The Dolphins ended the half on an 8-0 run, capped by a pair of free throws by Britney Holliday, to make the score 27-26 going into intermission.
Jacksonville's 27-26 lead is the first time Mercer has trailed in a game going into halftime since it trailed the Dolphins 40-35 on the road on Jan. 12.
The Bears came out reenergized to start the second half, using a jumper by Bridges to jump back in front, 37-33, with 17:08 left in the game.
Jacksonville just wouldn't go away, however, retaking the lead 51-50 on a jumper by junior Jade Cargill with 9:24 remaining in the second half.
With the Bears clinging to a two-point lead and the shot clock running down, junior Sharnea Boykin put Mercer ahead to stay when she drilled her first three-pointer of the entire 2012-13 season to make the score 62-57 with 2:40 to go in the game.
The Dolphins tried to come back, cutting the Bears lead down to four, but Bridges nailed a long jumper with 1:16 left to seal the win for Mercer.
Mercer is now 3-0 this season when it has four players score 10 points or more and 7-0 in 2012-13 when it shoots 45 percent or better from the field.
Monday's win wraps up a three-game homestand for Mercer, who is back in action when it travels to Johnson City to take on East Tennessee State on February 16. Game time is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the Mountain States Health Alliance Athletics Center.