ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Kahlia Lawrence, the first three-time Southern Conference player of the year, scored 23 points and No. 25 Mercer cruised to a 75-44 win over Western Carolina in a league tournament opener on Thursday that set the school record winning streak at 25.
Keke Calloway added 18 points for the Bears (28-2), who are ranked for the first time since 1980 when the team set a school record with 29 wins.
Mercer, the No. 1 seed, plays fifth-seeded Samford in Friday’s semifinals. The Bears have played and lost in the last two Southern Conference title games.
Lawrence had eight points and Calloway two 3-pointers as Mercer led 20-11 after one quarter. The lead was 33-18 at the half and a 12-0 run early in the third decided things. Lawrence had six points and Amanda Thompson four. The Catamounts had 24 turnovers that the Bears, who had just two giveaways, turned into 28 points.
Nikki Johnson had 17 for eighth-seeded Western Carolina (5-25), which finished on a five-game losing streak.
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