Mercer, which shot 35 percent (20 for 57) from the field, was 13 for 23 at the foul line.
Lincoln broke open a close game between the top two teams in the region in the second quarter by scoring nine straight points. Mercer, which got its first lead off a Martin 3-pointer 30 seconds into the game, was up 19-18 after a 7-0 Martin run before Lincoln unleashed its 9-0 scoring surge. Harris opened the run with a score, Spencer Sims hit from 3-point range and Belcher was good for four points in the paint, including the closing bucket of the half which put Lincoln up 27-19.
“She’s been consistent the last part of the season and she had a big stretch where she got a couple baskets, was able to break the press and get things to go down for us,” McWhorter said.
Despite the eight-point halftime lead, Belcher was still wary of a Mercer rally.
“I mean, even if the score is 37-2 (at halftime) the game is not over with, and you’ve got to play like it’s the very beginning,” she said. “It’s never comfortable until that final buzzer sounds.”
Lincoln outrebounded Mercer 35-22, led by Spangler with a game-high 11 rebounds. “She’s a board warrior,” McWhorter said.
The Patriots had 17 assists and eight steals but they also finished with 23 turnovers. The Titans had 11 steals, five assists and 13 turnovers.
Mercer County 10 19 42 59
Lincoln County 14 27 46 66
MERCER (25-9) — Catheryne Claunch 11, Heidi Huffman 3, Cassidy Martin 26, Carli Souder 8, Kandace Gash 5, Lyric Houston 2, Raegan Freeman 4.
LINCOLN (26-5) — Emily Fox 19, Ciara Saylor 1, Sydney Harris 16, Rachel Spangler 5, Kourtney Belcher 18, Spencer Sims 3, Tiandra Hocker 4.