By Joseph Dycus, Staff Writer—
Mercer waltzed into McKenzie arena Saturday undefeated in conference play, and after the buzzer sounded, they danced away still unbeaten. The Bears spoiled Senior Night for the Mocs, 56-62, despite the clutch play of Brooke Burnes, Gadsden, Ala.
With the game slipping away from Chattanooga on a dreary Saturday afternoon, Burnes did everything in her power to keep the Mocs in the game. On one possession, she received the ball in the left corner, a Mercer defender charging hard to prevent a three. As she had so often done during the season, Burnes calmly waited for the defender to pass. She then took a couple of dribbles toward the rim, flipped her signature teardrop up to the basket, and watched it swish softly through the net over the threatening arms of the help-side defender. While Chattanooga ended up losing another close game, the stellar shot-making of Brooke Burnes gave the Mocs a chance at victory.
“Just attacking, we kept pushing the ball, even when they scored we pushed the ball,” said Burnes postgame. “On defense, we were just trying to get stops.”
The Mocs needed to constantly attack the rim, as they hit only a single three on eight attempts. This solitary make extended the Mocs’ streak of making a three in a game to 619 games. Chattanooga compensated for their inaccuracy on the perimeter by hitting the offensive glass. Arianne Whittaker, Cincinnati, Ohio, was a standout in this aspect, grabbing six of her 17 boards after a UT-Chattanooga miss.
“I basically just read where the shot was coming from,” said Whittaker on her rebounding prowess. “Based off that, I ran to where I thought it was going to be. It was basically me ready where it came off the rim.”
On the Mercer side of the things, Amanda Thompson did her best Chris Paul impression by owning the midrange. Thompson was on fire in the first half, nailing cold-blooded shots in the usually-avoided space in between the pain and the arc. All-conference guard KeKe Calloway began the game in similar fashion. Blowing into the frontcourt with gusto, Calloway knifed through the defense with ease and calmly sank jump shots with a hand in her face. She was visibly gassed after her torrid start though, and Calloway ended up with ‘only’ 19 points on a ghastly seven of 22 shooting ratio. Despite cold second-half performances from their stars Mercer did enough to maintain the lead in the second half.
The usually-accurate sniper Lakelyn Bouldin had a tough go of things against the Bears. She was obviously the focus of Mercer’s offensive gameplan, as the Bears sold out to stop her from getting shots up. Bouldin was given no space to raise up for shots off of screens, and didn’t nail her first shot of the game with a minute left in the first half. That shot was not an easy look—a spinning jumper over multiple defenders that barely made it into the basket. Despite the horrid shooting night, her effort did not waiver.
“Overall, it was not an effort issue tonight and I am thankful for that,” said coach Katie Burrows, “We have to knock down shots in order to win.”
The Mocs now go on to hit the road for their last two games of the year. They play the SoCon’s leading scorer Nadine Sulimon and UNCG in Greensboro on Thursday.