Mercer uses last second free throws to take down Marshall
Alicia Williams recorded eight points, five rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal, and Briana Williams notched five points, four rebounds, an assist and a block. Bridges added five rebounds and four assists, and Robinson also had four blocks.
Kahlia Lawrence contributed 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block, while Alex Williams tallied seven rebounds, two points and two assists.
“It was an incredible win,” said Head Coach Susie Gardner. “Marshall is a very, very good basketball team. We had Teanna Robinson at the line at the end of the game, which has never happened in her career. Precious played great and had a lot of points, and both Alicia and Briana played hard. It took all of us and it’s a great win for our program, for sure.”
Mercer improved to 20-14 on the season, marking the Bears’ second 20-win campaign in just three seasons.
The teams traded baskets to start the second stanza, but Mercer used a 6-2 run over 42 seconds to cut Marshall’s lead to 47-46 with 15:41 left in the game. Bridges scored the Bears’ first 13 points of the half en route to her 22 second-half points.
The Herd (17-15) used a pair of layups to pull away again, 51-46, but the Bears kept them from going too far and tied the game, 56-56, with 9:10 remaining. A layup from Aja Sorrells kept Marshall in the lead, and it eventually worked its way to a seven-point lead, which it last held at 70-63 with 3:11 on the clock.
In the final 3:10 of the game, Alicia Williams hit the only field goal made by either team. The temas combined for seven trips to the line in the final minutes, with Mercer outscoring Marshall 8-1 in those attempts. Additionally, all of Mercer’s points in the final 3:10 came from the senior class, and each player contributed at least a point.
Bridges made a pair of free throws with 36 seconds remaining to knot the score, 71-71, before Teanna Robinson went to the line with 3 ticks left on the clock and a chance to win the game. Robinson connected on the first free throw, but missed the second to give Mercer the slimmest of advantages, 72-71. The lead was Mercer’s first of the second half.
Briana Williams took a trip to the charity stripe with 0.6 seconds remaining and added a point to make it 73-71. The Herd was unable to take a shot in the final moments and the Bears advanced to the semifinals.
The Herd came out of the gate fast, working its way to a 14-4 lead just 3:38 into the game. The opening spurt featured two treys from McKenzie Akers. After a little back-and-forth that put Marshall up 19-9, Mercer embarked on an 11-2 run that lasted four minutes and put the Bears within one, 21-20.
Bridges hit a three-pointer less than a minute later to give Mercer a 23-21 advantage. A layup from Marshall tied the game again, and until AJ Johnson snagged a layup with 2 seconds left until the buzzer, there were five lead changes and neither team led by more than three. Johnson’s layup gave Marshall a 39-34 advantage heading into the locker room.
Mercer connected on 44.1 percent of its shots in the first half, while Marshall recorded a 59.3 field goal percentage. Each team pulled down 15 rebounds and turned the ball over six times.
Mercer will hit the road to face Siena in the WBI semifinals on Wednesday, March 25 at 7 p.m. in Loudonville, N.Y.
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