DELAND, Fla. (School Release) - Sophomore Alicia Williams scored a season-high 19 points, but the Mercer women's basketball team couldn't overcome a slow start and fell to Stetson, 74-60 at the Edmunds Center on Saturday.
Mercer's second-straight loss closed the team's regular season at 19-10 (13-5 A-Sun) and locked the team in the No. 3 seed for next week's Atlantic Sun Tournament. The Hatters wrapped up the year with a 21-9 (14-4 A-Sun) record while capturing the No. 2 seed in the aforementioned tournament.
"There's been improvement, but I'm not pleased with the way we finished the season," Mercer head coach Susie Gardner said. "We need to regroup and understand that anything can happen in March Madness."
Williams led Mercer offensively for the first time this season, scoring her 19 points on nine-of-16 shooting from the field. She also collected two assists and a rebound in 20 minutes of work. Junior Kendra Grant added 17 points of her own in the loss while also posting two assists and a rebound.
After Grant opened the afternoon's scoring 14 seconds in, Stetson responded with 12-unasnwered to stake a 10-point lead before the first media timeout. After Mercer fought to get back within six, the Hatters moved out to a 13-point lead with slightly over two minutes to play before halftime. The Bears hung tough, however, and got three-straight scores from Williams at the end of the half to cut the deficit to 33-27 at intermission.
"We didn't get off to our best start, but I was pleased with the way we finished halftime," Garnder said. "Alicia Williams had one of the best games of her career."
After trading scores at the outset of the second half, Stetson guard Jama Sharp found Shasha Sims for a run-out score that sparked an 8-0 Stetson run to put the Hatters back up by 14. The Hatters would lead by double-digits for the majority of the remaining time Mercer cut it to single digits seven more times, only to see the Hatter score on the next possession each time.
The Hatters finished with 41 points off the bench, while shooting 21-of-28 from the free throw line as a team. In comparison, Mercer scored 29 points off the bench while going five-of-six from the charity stripe.
Mercer will begin postseason play in the Atlantic Sun Tournament on March 7 at 6 p.m. versus the No. 6 seed. The tournament will be hosted on Mercer's Macon campus at Hawkins Arena from March 6-9.