MACON, Ga. - Despite a double-double by senior Sharmesia Smith, the Mercer women's basketball team saw its 12-game winning streak come to an end after a 69-60 loss to Northern Kentucky on Saturday afternoon at Hawkins Arena.
Mercer (18-8, 12-3 A-Sun) started the second half with a three-point lead, at 28-25, but was unable to keep up with the Norse who took full advantage of a 24-for-30 effort from the free throw line in the final stanza to come away with the road win.
Smith scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and also grabbed 10 rebounds to complete her third career double-double. Sophomore Precious Bridges led the Bears with a team-high 15 points in a losing effort.
The score remained close throughout the opening minutes of the game, before a lay-in by sophomore Alicia Williams gave the Bears a 13-9 lead with 12:39 remaining in the first half.
Some more back-and-forth play continued before Northern Kentucky was able to tie the game up at 23-23 after a three-pointer by freshman Rianna Gayheart with 4:16 remaining in play. The Bears broke away just before half thanks to a lay-up from Smith to take a 28-25 lead into halftime.
A 15-point effort in the second half from NKU's Tiarra Hopper proved to be too much for the Bears to handle as they only lead for a short time in the final stanza.
The Bears held the lead for the first three minutes of the period until a lay-up by Hopper gave the Norse the lead for good at 35-34 with 15:35 remaining in the second half.
From there, the Norse went on to score five unanswered points to make the score 40-34 and maintained a multiple possession lead for the majority of the remainder of the contest.
Mercer out-rebounded Northern Kentucky 42-29, but the Norse made 27 combined free throws in the contest, the second-most by an A-Sun team in a single-game this season.
The Bears return to action for their last regular season home game on Monday evening against Lipscomb. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Hawkins Arena and is Senior Night for Smith, Alex Phillips and Ry'van Buchanan.