ASHEVILLE, N.C. – No. 1 Mercer stifled No. 5 Wofford 69-51 in the opening semifinal game of the Ingles Southern Conference Women’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale on Friday. The Bears clamped down defensively to get the opportunity to defend their title on Sunday.
Shannon Titus led the Bears on both ends of the floor. She scored 29 points while confiscating six rebounds and blocking five shots. Eighteen of the 29 came as Mercer took control of the game.
The Bears outscored Wofford 41-26 over the middle 20 minutes. There wasn’t a key run but just the gradual move of the tide that eventually led to a 22-point advantage, the high-water mark, in the fourth quarter.
It was a five-point affair, 28-23, early in the third quarter after two Terrier free throws by Da’Ja Green. Titus and Rachel Selph scored on back-to-back possessions. Marissa Bayer answered with a layup but the Bears kept coming.
Titus and Amanda Thompson got the lead to 10. The lead grew to 13, 40-27, as Mercer scored on six straight trips. Green’s 3-pointer at 4:14 made it an eight-point margin, 40-32, but Linnea Rosendal matched it on the other end to put the lead back to double digits for good.
Selph added 12 points, while Thompson grabbed a game-high 12 boards. Green led Wofford with 16 points and five rebounds.
The Bears await the winner of No. 2 Furman and No. 3 Chattanooga in the second semifinal game. The championship game is noon Sunday on Nexstar and ESPN+.
Records No. 1 Mercer 24-7 | No. 5 Wofford 16-15
3 Notes to Know - Mercer reaches its fourth SoCon tourney final in its fifth year in the league. It’s 10-3 (.769) in the event with one title coming last year in a 68-53 win over ETSU. - Wofford’s 16 wins are its most since going 16-13 in 2002. It was just the second semifinal appearance for the Terriers, who narrowly lost 63-61 to eventual champion Chattanooga, also in 2002. - The Bears allowed just 83 points (41.5/game) in their two tourney tilts thus far. Today marked the fifth time allowing 51 or fewer points this year.
3 Stats to Know - Shannon Titus’ 29 points were well documented above. Her defensive performance was maybe more vital, as she limited Wofford’s leading scorer, Chole Wanink, to 10 points below her 19.1 average. Wanink was 4-for-19 from the floor, scoring nine points. - The Bears are holding opponents to 26.4 percent (32-for-121) shooting with just five made 3s (5-for-37). Wofford shot 31.1 percent from the field, 17.6 percent (3-for-17) this afternoon. - The Terriers stopped their opponents in the opening period and just 22.2 percent (4-for-18), but Mercer lit the nets for 60 percent (24-for-40) the rest of the way.
No. 2 seed Furman 73, No. 3 seed Chattanooga 67
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – No. 2 Furman out-lasted No. 3 Chattanooga 73-67 in the second semifinal game of the Ingles Southern Conference Women’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale on Friday. The Paladins saw a 13-point first half lead erased before claiming the victory.
Abbey Cornelius scored the final five points in a 9-0 run that turned a seven-point deficit into a two-point Mocs lead with 3:42 remaining. Cornelius, a true freshman, converted an and-1, grabbed the rebound on a defensive stop and scored another layup as momentum surged toward the Scenic City.
Milica Manojlovic was undeterred. After the opponents traded empty possessions, she drilled a 3-pointer to right the Paladins’ ship. Tierra Hodges scored a crucial and-1 off an offensive board with 1:50 left for a 67-63 advantage.
That sparked their squad on both ends of the floor. Furman kept the Mocs off the board for nearly three-and-a-half minutes and hit its free throws to slam the door on any further comeback hopes.
Le’Jzae Davidson led five Paladins in double figures with 18 points. Hodges added 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds off the bench. Brooke Burns matched Davidson’s 18 for the Mocs. She and Lakelyn Bouldin, who had 13 points and five assists, played all 40 minutes.
Furman faces top seed Mercer in Sunday’s championship game. They square off at noon on Nexstar and ESPN+.
Records No. 2 Furman 19-12 | No. 3 Chattanooga 14-17
3 Notes to Know - Furman is making its first finals appearance since its 2000 championship win (68-49) over UNCG in Greenville, South Carolina. The Paladins are 2-5 (.286) all-time in the final. - Chattanooga is now 18-10 (.643) in the semifinals. First semis loss since 2012. The 28 appearances in the penultimate tourney step are in 35 total tournaments. - Paladins sophomore forward Tierra Hodges is in tournament beast mode. Hodges has 31 points and 26 rebounds in the wins over Samford and Chattanooga in 46 minutes played.
3 Stats to Know - Free-throw shooting was a major factor in the Paladins’ win. They shot a near-perfect 19-of-20 (95.0 percent). The last time they shot that well from the line was at Chattanooga last season, also a 19-of-20 performance. - The Mocs were +8 in turnover margin with just seven compared to 15 for the Paladins. That led to an 11-4 advantage in points off turnovers. UTC is +21 (7.0/game) in the three meetings with Furman. - Furman dominated the boards with a +12 rebounding margin, converting 11 offensive rebounds into 13 second-chance points.
2019 Ingles Southern Conference Women’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale schedule Thursday, March 7 Game 1 – No. 1 Mercer 55, No. 8 Western Carolina 32 Game 2 – No. 5 Wofford 75, No. 4 ETSU 66 Game 3 – No. 2 Furman 67, No. 7 Samford 52 Game 4 – No. 3 Chattanooga 72, No. 6 UNCG 62
^ - Denotes approximate game time. The first game on March 7 will have a firm start time. Each game thereafter will start 30 minutes following the conclusion of the preceding game but will not start prior to the listed time.
Friday, March 8 Game 5 – No. 1 Mercer 69, No. 5 Wofford 51 Game 6 – No. 2 Furman 73, No. 3 Chattanooga 67
Sunday, March 10 Championship Game Game 7 – No. 1 Mercer vs. No. 2 Furman
NOTE: All times Eastern. All games to be broadcast on ESPN+. Sunday’s championship game will air on select Nexstar affiliates
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me, shall be my brother.