Bears Drop CBE Classic Finale to South Dakota State, 74-61
MACON, Ga. – On the final day of the Progressive CBE Classic, Mercer University’s men’s basketball team saw its three-game win streak come to an end at the hands of South Dakota State University, 74-61, on Wednesday evening. The loss dropped the Bears to 4-2 overall on the season before a nice pre-Thanksgiving Day crowd of 1,568 at the University Center.
The Bears were led by 15 points from senior Justin Cecil, who was 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. Cecil scored all of his points in the opening period. He connected on a total 13 treys in the three-games of the CBE event.
Sophomore point guard Langston Hall overcame a slow first half during which he had just one point, to finish the night with 12. Hall and Cecil each had four rebounds.
Junior Chris Smith came off the Bears’ bench to contribute nine points and a team-high six rebounds in 25 minutes of work.
Mercer took a 23-22 lead with 7:41 left until the half on one of Cecil’s long-range shots. The Bears would elevate that to an eight point cushion with 4:07 left until the break on a layup by Smith. MU would eventually settle on the three-point halftime lead, 34-31.
In the second half, SDSU came out like their name-sake Jackrabbits and over-took the Bears within the first two minutes of the second stanza. South Dakota State would hold the lead until 6:02 left in the game, when MU erased a six-point SDSU lead and briefly retook control, 56-55, thanks to another Smith bucket.
But that would be the last lead Mercer would see as the Jackrabbits went on a 19-5 run to close out the game and MU’s hopes of extending its win skein.
Despite the loss on the scoreboard – as well as learning redshirt freshman guard Jibri Bryan suffered what was likely a season-ending knee injury in Tuesday’s win over Niagara – Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman saw the positives of his team’s efforts and regrouping.
“I’m really excited about the potential in the days ahead for this program with the guys that we have right now,” said Hoffman. “I love these guys; I love how they care about each other. We’re going to face adversity all throughout the year. But it’s how you bounce back in those situations.”
MU will be off until Thursday, December 1 when it opens Atlantic Sun Conference play at Lipscomb University.