Sell-Out Homecoming Crowd Sees 66-57 Victory by the Bears
MACON, Ga. – Mercer University used some clutch shooting down the stretch to hold off a stubborn Emory University team, 66-57, to score a Homecoming Game win before a sell-out crowd of 3,182 at the University Center.
The win was the fourth-straight season opening win under head coach Bob Hoffman and the fifth-consecutive lid-lifting victory overall for MU. Mercer also improved to 2-0 in the all-time series versus the Eagles.
There were three ties and Emory led twice – both times midway through the first half - before the Bears took control of the game for good. However, the experienced Eagles refused to go away and, despite trailing by as many as 12 points with 18:16 left in the game. Mercer held a 36-27 halftime advantage.
Emory clawed to within a single point, 55-54, after a pair of free throws by Aaron Claunch with 2:48 left to play. However, that's when the Bears rose up to squash the threat.
A three-pointer by Bud Thomas – who had a career and game-high 18 points – was followed by three-straight free throws from redshirt sophomore Jakob Gollon (10 points), after being fouled while shooting beyond the arc. That upped MU's advantage to 61-54 with just 1:32 remaining in the game as the Bears closed out the win.
Hoffman knew his team would be in for a battle with the NCAA Division III foes.
"(Emory) is well coached," said Hoffman. "I've been telling people all week the have some kids who can play and who have been together a long time. They are a good team.
"They took away our inside game early and we couldn't hit our three's."
The Bears eventually rectified that situation in the second stanza and finished the afternoon with 44 points in the paint. Mercer shot 45.6 percent from the field (26-57), as well as making good on 75 percent (12-16) from the charity stripe.
6-11 sophomore Daniel Coursey was the third Bear in double-digit scoring with a career-high 13 points, hitting five-of-seven from the floor.
Thomas and Gollon shared high rebound honors with nine boards each. As a team, Mercer out-rebounded the Eagles by a 44-30 margin. Gollon also had a career-best seven assists and Coursey collected three of the Bears' eight blocked shots as a team.
Overall, Hoffman felt it was a positive day for his young club.
"We had a great crowd today," reflected Hoffman. "It was a good win for us; we knew we had to play. Overall, I'm pleased. We are not perfect. We are not there yet. We've got a lot more to do. But I like the fact we found a way to win."