DOTHAN, Ala. (March 9, 2006) - The Lady Bucs scored just two field goals in the final 16 minutes of play, allowing Mercer to creep back to an overtime victory, 59-56, in the first round of the Atlantic Sun Tournament, Thursday in the Dothan Civic Center.
Senior B.J. Banjo (Baltimore, Md.) netted a game-high 20 points in the loss, while classmate Candace Gibson (Warner Robins, Ga.) pulled down a game-best 14 rebounds. The Lady Bucs finished the season at 18-10, the most wins since the 1994-95 season.
Mercer (14-14) out-scored the Lady Bucs, 8-5, in the overtime period, including a perfect four-for-four performance at the free-throw line. Erin Keller netted a team-best 15 points in the win, scoring two points in overtime and four in the final 1:30 of regulation. Keller's jumper with 26 second remaining tied the score at 51, and took the contest to overtime.
The Bears will meet Florida Atlantic in Friday's A-Sun semifinals.
ETSU allowed Mercer to cut the lead back to single digits, netting only two field goals in the first 8:14 of the second half. Wilhoit scored ETSU's first bucket in nearly six minutes, draining a foul-line jumper at the 11:46 mark, making the score 42-33. Mercer's Megan Lewis answered with a three at 11:25, but Wilhoit would respond again, hitting a clutch three with 11:06 to go.
The Bears would continue to battle, however, cutting the ETSU advantage to 45-41 with 8:43 to go, thanks to two free throws from Keller and another from Lewis.
Banjo then sank a runner in the lane to put her team ahead, 47-41, with 6:35 remaining, but Keller would respond, slicing through the ETSU defense to can a layup at the 5:50 mark. The Bears then got another layup from Tanya Kessenich, lessening the Lady Bucs' lead to 47-45, the smallest margin of the half.
ETSU then got a much-needed bucket from Jenny Norman (Peachtree City, Ga.), who converted on a feed from Banjo to make the score 49-45 with 3:57 to go. Norman would then make the front-end of a one-and-one, before Russell drained a pair of free throws to get within a possession at 50-47 with 1:48 to go.
Keller continued to spark the Bears, beating the ETSU defense for another layup at 1:29, making the score 50-49. Another Keller bucket with 25.6 second remaining would knot the score at 51-51. A last-second runner from Banjo would rim out, taking the Lady Bucs to their first overtime game of the season.
ETSU finished the game shooting a dismal 27.3 percent, while Mercer made 36.2 percent of its attempts. Mercer out-rebounded the Lady Bucs 45-44. The Bears scored 21 points off of turnovers to ETSU's 20.
The Lady Bucs started slow out of the gate, falling behind 9-5 by the 17:43 mark. ETSU would get its engines started after that, out-scoring Mercer 26-14 for the rest of the half, taking the 31-23 lead into the locker room.
ETSU got solid first-half shooting performances from both Banjo and Brooke Wilhoit (Sevierville, Tenn.), with Banjo netting a trio of three-pointers, and Wilhoit adding a pair of long bombs. Wilhoit, a junior, finished with 13 points on the game.
Both Flucker and Sarah Russell scored four points for the Bears. Kessenich accounted for six of Mercer's 21 rebounds.
ETSU turned 11 Mercer turnovers into 13 points in the first frame, while only turning the ball over seven times on the offensive end.