MACON, Ga. (School Release)- The Mercer women's basketball team used career efforts by sophomore Sharnea Boykin and junior Kendra Grant to grind out its fifth-straight win, 79-64, over East Tennessee State on Monday afternoon at Hawkins Arena.
Mercer (11-7, 5-2 A-Sun) has now won five-straight games for the first time since the 2005-06 season and sits alone in third-place in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings as we approach the mid-way point of the league schedule.
Boykin dished out a career-high 15 assists in the win, the most helpers in a single-game by anyone in the A-Sun Conference since Mercer's Courtney Ford also had 15 assists in a win over Charleston Southern in November of 2009.
Grant was on the right end of a majority of those assists, tying her career-best with 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field and a blistering 5-of-9 showing from three-point territory. Grant definitely had help scoring the ball, with sophomore Precious Bridges checking in right behind her with 23 points, six rebounds and three steals in the victory.
The first half featured a run-and-gun attack that produced plenty of points and high field goal percentages for both squads. East Tennessee State jumped out in front first, using a jumper by freshman Brianna McQueen to take a 19-10 lead with 11:04 left in the first half.
Mercer stormed back, however, using a jumper by sophomore Alicia Williams to cap a 14-4 run that put the Bears up by a score of 41-37 going into halftime.
Mercer shot a blistering 53.1 percent from the field to put up its 41 points, which are the second-most it has scored in the first half of a game this season. ETSU hung right there with the home team, though, checking in with an even 50 percent field goal percentage at the intermission.
Both teams started the second half more focused on the defensive end, with the Buccaneers tying the score at 47-47 thanks to a jumper by junior Destiny Mitchell with 12:34 left in the second half.
The Orange and Black turned it on from that point forward to the delight of the home fans thanks to the play of Grant. The Macon, Ga. native canned a mid-range jumper and a three-pointer on back-to-back offensive possession to give Mercer a 60-52 advantage with 7:02 remaining in the contest.
The Bears held strong from that point forward, out-scoring ETSU 15-6 over the next six minutes of play to put the game out of reach.
Williams had 13 points, her second-straight double-figure scoring effort, on an efficient 6-of-7 day from the field while senior Ry'van Buchanan played strong down low, grabbing 10 caroms for her first double-digit rebounding performance of the season.
Mercer returns to life on the road next time out when it travels to Nashville to take on Lipscomb on January 26. Game time is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Allen Arena.