"We had two very intense practices. Usually the day before a game, we back off a little bit, but we got refocused. This was definitely the effort we needed. We knew Lincoln is very aggressive and they play very hard and you'd better be ready."
The Patriots were not ready for what Mercer (17-7) threw at them. Visiting Lincoln (6-17) had just five field goals in the first half, and was held without a basket for a stretch of nine minutes, 42 seconds in the first half. In that time span, Lincoln got just three free throws as Mercer went from a 4-all tie to a 30-7 lead.
Many of Lincoln's missed shots came on the inside, where even layups wouldn't go down for the Patriots.
"I thought we had a lot of shots we had the opportunity to make," Lincoln coach John Kolasa said. "I thought we had a lot of looks early. It's not going to make up a 26-2 difference, but I felt like possibly that should have been 10 or 12 points at that point.
"We had some open looks inside, but we didn't stick them. Part of that is them making you play that way. That's part of their strategy and they do it well."
Mercer was also able to force turnovers (24 for the game) and take advantage of those extra possessions.
"With our pressure, it's hard for the other team to get into any kind of set, which means easy baskets for us," Souder said. "When we're like that, when we're in that mode, it's tough."
"The last couple of games, we haven't been real intense," Mercer guard Courtney Watts said. "We wanted to come out tonight and just be strong."
Mercer had six different players score in that run, including 10 points from Chrystal Claunch and seven from Watts.
Ten players scored for the Scotties
The Scotties had 10 players score in the game, and all but two had at least two field goals. Watts led the team with 18 points, Claunch had 13 and Erica Lee added 10 off the bench. Souder got 26 points from his bench, and he said that versatility and depth allowed his players to give their all when they were on the court without having to worry about conserving energy.
"The style we play, you've got to play a bunch of kids," Souder said. "If you don't, you're going to get tired and you're going to get winded. We try to sub every couple minutes if we can. We've gotten to where we expect those kids (on the bench) to do that. In practice, they bang with those top ones every day. It really doesn't surprise me when they play like that."
Kolasa wasn't surprised by the games turned in by Jamie Duncan and Jenny Jones. He just wished some other players had helped out.
Duncan and Jones scored 30 of Lincoln's first 35 points, and finished with 32 of their 46. Jones had 19 points, four rebounds and three steals; Duncan had 13 points and five boards.
"Jones and Duncan had tremendous individual efforts," Kolasa said. "We've got to have other people produce. There's no question about that."
Mercer led 41-17 at the half and opened the fourth quarter with another run, scoring 15 unanswered points to take a 67-33 lead. Lincoln got no closer than 30 the rest of the way.
Mercer was 27-for-53 from the field for 51 percent and hit 20 of 33 free throws. Lincoln connected on 15 of 56 shots (27 percent) from the field, 16 of 23 free throws and outrebounded Mercer 42-35.
LINCOLN (7-16) - Jenny Ralston 6, Jamie Duncan 13, Jenny Jones 19, Kendra Garris 1, Jessica Ryan 2, Shawna Noakes 2, Whitney Brown 1, Shakela Miller 2.
MERCER (17-7) - Courtney Watts 18, Chrystal Claunch 13, Chelsea Goodman 8, Erin Ashford 9, Jillian Horn 5, Cala Alford 2, Krysta Honchel 8, Erica Lee 10, Lindsey Alford 4, Tara Camden 2.