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Rick Nixon | NCAA.com | February 27, 2018

Mercer makes AP Top 25 for first time in 38 years, earning Team of the Week

Mercer, 27-2 overall, is seeking to punch its ticket to a first-ever NCAA championship appearance this weekend.

With 24 consecutive wins, the Mercer Bears are in good company nationally, trailing only Mississippi State (30) and UConn (29) in terms of current overall winning streaks, while cracking The Associated Press Top 25 Poll for the first time since 1980 in the process.

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Mercer, 27-2 overall and undefeated in the Southern Conference (SoCon) at 14-0, are seeking to punch its ticket to its first NCAA tournament this weekend. The No. 1 seeded Bears will take on Western Carolina on March 1 in the opening round of the 2018 SoCon Women's Basketball Tournament being played in Asheville, North Carolina. The championship game will be played on Sunday, March 4.

The 25th-ranked Bears are fresh off a weekend sweep over Chattanooga and ETSU in which Mercer claimed the program's first outright SoCon regular season title.  

MORE: Mississippi State caps off perfect regular season with 30-0 record

Mercer defeated the Bucs on Saturday by the final score of 63-48 to wrap up an undefeated SoCon regular season as junior guard KeKe Calloway stepped up in a big way in the regular season finale, knocking down 15 points, pulling down six rebounds and dishing out three assists. Calloway also knocked down 4-of-5 from the charity stripe.

On Feb. 22 in a 65-56 win over Chattanooga, Kahlia Lawrence (25) and Calloway (20) combined for 45 of Mercer’s 65 points. The Bears forced 16 turnovers, converting the Chattanooga mishaps into 17 points. Mercer also won the fast break battle 19-0, literally running away with the game in the end. Guard Sydni Means ended the game with 12 assists and just one turnover, passing Nancy Smith of Chattanooga for the third most career assists in SoCon history with 654. 

Mercer boasts two of the top three scorers in the league, with Lawrence leading the SoCon with an average of 18.6 points per game, while Calloway is No. 3 with an average of 17.3 points per outing. The Bears’ most recent loss came over Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 24) when they lost to Western Kentucky.