ETSU women beat Mercer in SoCon semifinals
ETSU was led by Destiny Mitchell with 16 points and 11 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the year, while Serena Clark added 15 points and 11 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the season. Tianna Tarter also added 15 points and a team-high 15 rebounds for her second double-double of the year.
Southern Conference Player of the Year Precious Bridges led Mercer with 24 points, while SoCon Freshman of the Year Kahlia Lawrence added 10. Teanna Robinson added a team-high 12 rebounds.
Mercer opened the scoring with a jumper by Bridges, but both teams were scoreless for the next 3:19 until three by Shamauria Bridges gave ETSU a 3-2 lead with 15:53 remaining. A layup by Mitchell then upped ETSU’s lead to 5-2 heading into the first media timeout of the game.
Out of the timeout, ETSU continued to pressure Mercer, holding the Bears scoreless for a total of 5:16, before two free throws by Bridges ended the Mercer scoring drought with 14:13 remaining. A three-point play by Briana Williams tied the game at seven with 13:17 left in the half, until ETSU used a free throw from Maria Bond to regain the lead at 8-7. An up-and-under layup by Robinson on the other end gave Mercer its second lead of the game at 9-8 heading into the under-12:00 media timeout.
A jumper by Bridges gave Mercer its largest lead of the day at 11-8, but a layup by Bond cut the lead back to one with 10:07 remaining. The teams traded baskets until a three-point play by Tarter gave a two-point lead back to ETSU at 15-13 with 8:04 remaining. A fast-break layup by Clark gave the Buccaneers their largest lead of the half at 17-13 heading into the under-8:00 timeout.
Out of the timeout, a three by Mitchell pushed the ETSU lead to seven at 20-13, before the teams traded baskets and Tarter made a fast-break layup to open a nine-point lead for ETSU at 26-17, heading into the final media timeout of the half.
A three by Bond gave ETSU a ten-point lead at 29-19 with 2:16 remaining in the half, and two free throws by Mitchell pushed the lead to 12 at 31-19, before a buzzer-beating jumper by Bridges cut the lead to ten at 31-21 heading into halftime.
The teams traded baskets to open the second half, before a layup by Lawrence cut the lead to eight at 33-25 with 18:32 remaining, and two free throws by Precious Bridges cut the lead to six. A jumper by Bridges, followed by a bucket from Destiny Mitchell quickly pushed the ETSU lead back to ten at 37-27 heading into the first media timeout of the half.
Out of the timeout, two free throws by Tarter pushed the ETSU lead to 12, but a steal and fast break layup by Lawrence cut it back to 10. Back-to-back baskets by Mercer cut the ETSU lead to eight at 41-33 with 13:05 left in the half. Both teams were held scoreless until a three by Tarter gave the Buccaneers the 44-33 lead heading into the under-12:00 media timeout.
A jumper by Bridges ended a 3:15 scoring drought for Mercer, cutting the ETSU lead back to single-digits at nine, but a layup on the other end by Bond pushed it back to 11. The teams traded baskets until another jumper by Lawrence again cut the lead to nine with 7:34 remaining.
With 6:41 remaining, Bridges completed a three-point play to draw Mercer as close as it had been since 6:36 remaining in the first half, cutting the ETSU lead to six at 48-42. Two free throws from Mitchell stretched the Buccaneer lead back to eight with 5:23 remaining, before a drive to the basket by Clark gave ETSU the double-digit lead back. The teams traded buckets until a jumper by Bridges cut ETSU’s lead to 54-46 before the final media timeout of the game.
Bridges completed the three-point play out of the timeout to cut the lead to seven, but two free throws by Chandler Christopher, followed by a three from Tarter put the game out of reach for Mercer, giving ETSU a 12-point lead with two minutes remaining.
Mercer outscored ETSU 9-7 over the game’s final two minutes, but the Buccaneers held on for the 66-56 semifinal victory.