Freshman Erin Houpt scored all 12 of her points in a dominating third quarter and Mercer earned its fourth NCAA Tournament berth and second in a row with a 73-54 win over Furman in the Southern Conference tournament on Sunday.
Trailing 25-24 at the half, the Bears outscored the Paladins 30-4 in the third quarter, opening and closing with Houpt 3-pointers on her birthday.
Amoria Neal-Tyson, the tournament MVP, had six assists and scored 26 points to lead top-seeded Mercer (23-6), giving her 78 in three tournament games that were won by 39, 30 and 19 points. Shannon Titus scored 15 points and the three-time SoCon Defensive Player of the Year drew a critical offensive foul early in the third quarter. Jaron Dougherty added 13 points.
Mercer has won 12 straight games since its only conference loss at home against Furman 69-66.
Tate Walters scored 20 points for third-seeded Furman (19-12), which was trying to make its third NCAA appearance, and first since 2000 when coach Jackie (Smith) Carson was a player. Grace van Rij added 12 points.