By Carey Phillips
Shannon Titus scored 26 points last Thursday leading Mercer to a 60-54 Southern Conference women’s basketball victory over Western Carolina at Mercer’s Hawkins Arena.
Jaron Dougherty added 19 points for the Lady Bears.
Jewel Smalls (14 points, 13 rebounds) and Andrea Martin Ruiz (14 points, 12 assists) had double-doubles for the Lady Cats. Lauren LaPlant added 13 points.
Mercer was whistled for just two fouls the entire game, and WCU was one of two from the line. The Lady Bears made 13 of 16 free throws.
The game was close all the way with neither team leading by more than five until the fourth period.
Mercer held a 9-4 edge on Dougherty’s three-pointer with 4:45 to play in the first quarter.
LaPlant’s three-pointer with four seconds left put Western in front 16-15 entering the second period.
The Lady Cats’ largest lead was 24-19 on Tembre Moates’ follow shot with 6:06 to go in the half.
The Lady Bears fought back to lead 26-24 on Titus’ steal and layup with 1:49 on the clock.
Smalls answered with a three-pointer at the 1:28 mark, and WCU led 29-28 at halftime.
Mercer took the lead for good at 36-34 on Dougherty’s basket with 3:14 left in the third quarter, which ended with the Lady Bears up 42-39.
Western trailed just 48-47 after Smalls’ three-pointer with 6:01 on the clock.
Mercer went on an 8-2 run, including four by Dougherty, to lead 56-49 on Jill Harris’ layup with 2:56 remaining.
The largest lead was 60-52 on a pair of foul shots by Titus with eight seconds to go.
The Lady Cats set a school record for three-pointers in a season. They have 193 to surpass the 189 in 2013-14.
WCU shot 42.3 percent from the floor, and the Lady Bears hit 35.9 percent of their attempts.
The Lady Cats had a 38-35 rebounding advantage. Summer Pahl led Mercer with 12.
Western was hurt by 21 turnovers, while the Lady Bears had just nine.
Completing the WCU scoring were Moates with eight, Alyssa Walker with three and Farasia Hodge with two.