Mercer women rally late for road win at Samford

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Mercer women's basketball team out-scored Samford 14-3 over the final five-plus minutes of the game to pull out a 56-52 comeback win on Saturday afternoon at the Pete Hanna Center.

Mercer (5-4) shot 44 percent from the field in the second half to secure the win and improve its record to 4-1 against Southern Conference schools this season.

Junior Briana Williams paced the Bears offensively with a season-high 19 points on 8-of-18 shooting from the field. Senior Sharnea Boykin had a great all-around game for Mercer scoring eight points, grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds and handing out a game-high seven assists in the win.

"Today was just one of those games where we found a way to make some defensive stops at the end and found ways to score despite our offensive struggles all day long," said head coach Susie Gardner.

Both teams struggled offensively at the outset, as a jumper by Briana Williams made the score 3-2 Samford with 16:32 left in the first half.

Briana Williams continued to carry the Bears early on as a straightaway three-pointer gave Mercer its first lead of the game, at 13-11, with 11:38 to go in the first half.

Senior Kendra Grant got into the act with a three-pointer of her own to keep Mercer in front of Samford, 17-15 with 8:03 remaining in the first half.

The Bulldogs had the run of play towards the end of the first stanza, however, using a 16-3 run to take a 31-25 lead going into halftime.

The offense flowed more freely for both teams to start the second half as a short corner three-pointer by junior Precious Bridges pulled Mercer within one of Samford, 37-36, with 14:25 to go in the second half.

Despite a fast break lay-in by Bridges, Mercer still found itself trailing Samford 46-41 with 7:42 remaining in the second half.

The Bears kept fighting, however, and thanks to four-straight points by Boykin cut Samford's lead down to just one, at 49-48, with 2:29 to go in the game.

After another defensive stop, Mercer completed its comeback with a pair of clutch buckets by Briana Williams and Bridges on back-to-back possession to secure the win.

Bridges joined Briana Williams in double figures by scoring all 14 of her points in the second half.

"Samford did a great job of getting good looks through its offense, but we make some tweaks at halftime and threw some different defensive looks at them as the game went along," said Gardner. "Our players really dug deep those last three minutes and in a game that could have gone either way, our team stepped up and found a way to win."

Mercer is now on a 10-day break for final exams and won't return to the hardwood until it takes on Jacksonville State on December 17. Game time is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. at Pete Mathews Coliseum.


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