For the second consecutive season, the women’s basketball game between Georgia Southern and Mercer went down to the wire, but this time, the Bears pulled out the 48-44 victory behind a career-high 29 points from Precious Bridges Friday night in Hanner Fieldhouse.
Bridges scored nine of the Bears’ last 10 points to hold off the Eagles and finished the game 12-of-31 shooting from the floor and
4-for-4 from the free-throw line.
With the shot clock winding down and the Bears clinging to a 42-40 lead, Bridges buried a 3-pointer from the wing with under a minute left in the game. Eagle guard Anna Claire Knight drove to the basket, hit a runner and was fouled for a 3-point play, but Bridges hit an elbow jumper with a hand in her face with 24 seconds remaining to extend the margin back to four.
Knight missed a layup for the Eagles but got her own rebound and was fouled. The sophomore made 1-of-2 from the line, and the Eagles, trailing by three, fouled Sharmesia Smith with 10 seconds left. Smith sank the first end of the one-and-one to seal the victory.
MiMi DuBose scored 18 points to lead Georgia Southern (1-5), and Danielle Spencer scored a career-high 12 points to go along with five rebounds. Knight finished with 10 points and five boards.
Kendra Grant collected eight points and six rebounds for the Bears (5-3), and Smith tallied seven points and a game-high 17 rebounds, including 11 on the offensive glass. Teanna Robinson posted 10
rebounds and a career-high six blocked shots.
The Bears used an 11-4 run over a stretch of 7:07 in the second half to turn a three-point deficit into a 40-36 cushion with 3:28 left in the game. Bridges scored four points during the run, and Smith netted three.
DuBose got a layup following the last media timeout, and Eagle forward Sierra Kirkland got a steal on the Bears’ trip down the floor. But Bridges answered with a steal and a run-out layup to keep the margin at 42-38. DuBose got another layup to make the score 42-40, setting up Bridges’ shot-clock beating triple.
The Eagles held Mercer to 32.3 percent shooting in the game but were outrebounded 47-37, including 20-12 on the offensive end. GSU had a season low 11 turnovers but wound up shooting 32 percent in the game, including 26 percent in the second half.
"We focused on our offensive execution this week, and I thought we were really fluid and executed much better, but we missed on too many of the opportunities that we created for ourselves," said Georgia Southern coach Chris Vozab. "We defended consistently in the half court, but there were too many key possessions where they got the offensive rebound."
The first half was back and forth, featuring six lead changes, until the Eagles scored five straight points near the end of the stanza to open a 25-18 cushion. Spencer scored the first bucket, and DuBose added a triple. Bridges got loose for a layup as time expired, and GSU led 25-20 at halftime.
The Eagles have 10 days off before return to action at the Hatter Classic at Stetson. GSU will take on the host Hatters Dec. 18 and face Bethune-Cookman Dec. 19.