ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Mercer Women's basketball team returned to the top of the Southern Conference and the men's team advanced to the conference championship game after wins, Sunday.
The Mercer women beat Wofford 60-38 to claim their third conference tournament title in four years.
The Bears never trailed in the game and the defense was the major difference. Mercer held Wofford to just six points in each of the second and third quarters that included a 28-0 run.
Jaron Dougherty led the way for the Bears with a 19 point, 11 rebound double-double that also included six steals. Amoria Neal-Tysor added 16 points and Jada Lewis scored 14.
It was the fifth championship game appearance in six years for the Bears, a feat head coach Susie Gardner did not take lightly.
"It's hard to get to the championship game. It really is. Anything can happen on one night, upsets happen all the time and for us to have consistency to get to the championship game is huge," Gardner said. "For the program, it's awesome. For mercer women's basketball, it's awesome but I want every team to cherish each individual championship."
Neal-Tysor was also named the Most Outstanding Player after averaging 25 points over three tournament games.
"I'm at a loss for words, honestly. This preseason with Covid going on, everything being tough with Covid testing and we weren't even allowed in our weight room at one point. We were doing workouts on the football field in the hot sun. Just seeing how much we've prepared for this moment right here is just a loss for words. We earned it. We absolutely earned it," Neal-Tysor said.
Mercer earned the conference's automatic bid for the NCAA Women's tournament to be played in San Antonio, Texas.
Mercer's men defeated VMI 73-59 on Sunday night to advance to their first ever Southern Conference championship game. The Bears are the 7th seed in the tournament.
Neftali Alvarez led the Bears in scoring with 23 points. Felipe Haase added 15 points and 11 rebounds and Leon Ayers III scored 14 points.
Mercer will face the tournament's number one seed, UNCG, on Monday night at 7 p.m. The winner earns the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament to be played in Indianapolis, Indiana.