MACON, Ga. – South Carolina State’s Kemoni Jenkins and Bryeasha Blair tossed in 16 points each, but host Mercer rode the hot shooting of KeKe Calloway to a 74-53 win over the Lady Bulldogs Tuesday at Hawkins Arena.
Calloway had a career-high 26 points on 9-18 shooting from the field, including a 7-15 effort from three-point range. Sydni Means and Kahlia Lawrence added 17 points each in the win for the Bears, who improved to 10-2 on the season, matching their best start since 1979.
S.C. State coach Doug Robertson’s team, which played a solid first half to stay close to the host team, had its two-game win streak snapped and dipped to 4-5 on the season.
“We fought hard and played one of best first halves, but they (the Bears) shot the ball well in the second half,” said Robertson. "Mercer is a solid team and has solid personnel, but the final score is not really indicative of how good we played.
"They had a big second half.”
The Lady Bulldogs, down by only three after one and by 10, 36-26, at the half, closed to within 39-34 early in the third period before Mercer ended the quarter on a 17-4 run to build a 56-38 lead after three periods to take control of the game. The Bears outscored SC State 20-12 in the third and 18-15 in the final quarter.
The visiting Lady Bulldogs, following three early ties - the last 8-8 with 6:47 on the first-period clock - took a 12-8 lead on consecutive baskets by Jenkins with 4:43 on the clock. But the host ended the quarter with 9-2 run to lead 17-14 after one.
S.C. State began the second period with a 7- 1 run – with all seven points by Blair, who had 10 first-half points -- to go ahead 21-18 with 7:31 left in the half before the Bears, fueled by Lady Bulldog turnovers – used a 13-2 spree to build a 31-23 advantage with 3:05 left in the half. Mercer took a 36-26 cushion to the locker room.
Means had 15 first-half points on 5-7 shooting from the field, including 3-3 from beyond the arc, and Lawrence had 10 to help the Bears to their 10-point halftime lead.
S.C. State enjoyed a 23-16 edge on the boards in the first half, however, Robertson’s team committed 10 turnovers to just two for the Bears.
S.C. State will try to get back on the winning track Thursday when the Lady Bulldogs travel to Charlotte to meet Johnson and Wales in a 7 p.m. start.