Freshman Thomas Cues Bears Win at USC Upstate, 65-53
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Mercer University picked up its second-straight win – both on the road – with a 65-53 come-from-behind win at USC Upstate. The win upped the Bears' record to 8-14 overall and 5-6 in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
It was a tale of two halves, as MU fell behind by as many as 13 points (20-7) with 11: 24 remaining in the first half, only to turn the tables on the Spartans in the second stanza when the visitors built a 13 point bulge themselves thanks to the likes of freshman Bud Thomas.
The Bears turnaround in that first 20 minutes was cued by senior Brian Mills, who made three successive baskets to get his team tied, 22-22, with 4:06 left until intermission. A Justin Cecil three-pointer gave MU its first lead of the game, 25-24, but USCU eventually took a 28-25 lead at the break.
Mills finished the day with 15 points for his 17th double-figure scoring day of the season.
In the second half, the Bears once again got a big lift from their bench for the third-consecutive me, this time it came via Thomas. Thomas, who had just two first half points, tallied 11 in the second half to finish the game with 13 points and five boards. Thomas' layup with 12:45 left to play gave Mercer the lead it would not relinquish, 39-37.
From that point, MU employed a smothering defense that produced 14 points off turnovers. The team also received some additional offensive support from Brandon Moore and Langston Hall as the Bears built the big cushion. Moore, finished with a double-double of 16 points (15 in the second half) and 11 rebounds.
Hall scored all 10 of his points in the second period.
The Bears shot nearly 40 percent (21-53) from the floor, but found themselves out-rebounded by a 43-34 margin. USCU was held to 29 percent (16-55) from the field.
Mercer will close out the three-game road swing on Monday (Jan. 31) evening at East Tennessee State University. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. in Johnson City, Tenn.