- Associated Press - Friday, March 2, 2018

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Kahlia Lawrence scored 23 points and top-seeded and 25th-ranked Mercer advanced to the championship game of the Southern Conference Tournament for the third straight year with an 81-44 semifinal win over Samford on Friday.

The Bears (29-2), who tied the program record for wins with its 26th straight victory, goes for its first title in four years in the Southern Conference on Sunday against second-seeded East Tennessee State.

Lawrence had the last seven points of a game-opening 18-0 run and Mercer was never threatened. The fifth-seeded Bulldogs (15-16) missed their first 10 shots and had five turnovers in the first quarter.

KeKe Calloway and Amanda Thompson each added 11 points for the Bears, who shot 58 percent and had 18 assists with just six turnovers.

Olivia Crozier had 13 points and Hannah Nichols 12 for Samford, which shot 33 percent and had 15 giveaways.

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