Mercer Keeps Rolling with 75-65 Win over Jacksonville
MACON, Ga. – The Mercer men's basketball team is off to its best start since the 2002-03 season after capturing its fourth-straight win on Monday night, this time downing Jacksonville by a 75-65 count at the University Center.
With the win Mercer remained unbeaten in Atlantic Sun play at home this season and moved to 15-7 (7-2 A-Sun). Jacksonville saw its two-game winning streak snapped and fell to 4-16 (2-7 A-Sun). Overall, the Bears hold a 9-1 record at the University Center this season.
In the 2002-03 season, the Bears started 17-5 on their way to a 23-6 overall record and regular season A-Sun championship.
"It was an amazing win for our team," Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. "We persevered the whole way. It's awesome to watch these guys compete and want to win for each other."
Four Mercer players registered double figure point totals on Monday, led by Justin Cecil's 16. Langston Hall booked 15 points on Monday while Jakob Gollon and Daniel Coursey scored 13 and 11, respectively.
Mercer jumped all over Jacksonville at the start, connecting on six of the team's first seven shots to race out to an early 16-6 lead. Cecil was paramount during that stretch, scoring 10 points in the opening 5:21 of play.
Later in the half, Mercer's lead was 19-11 before the Dolphins ripped off six-straight points to close within two with 10:46 on the clock. Mercer pushed its lead back to nine three more times before settling on a 41-34 halftime lead.
Jacksonville used full-court pressure the majority of the first half in an effort to force Mercer guards into turnovers. The Mercer ball handlers responded admirably, yielding only eight turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
Cecil finished the first half with 14 points on five-of-eight shooting from the field.
Jacksonville opened the second stanza on a 5-0 run and had their deficit back to two before Hall beat the Jacksonville press and found Coursey on the baseline for a two-handed slam dunk.
The Dolphins eventually evened the score at 47-47 on a thunderous dunk by Shamile Jeffers at the 11:27 mark and went ahead on its next possession when Glenn Powell drained a baby hook in the paint.
The visitor's lead was short lived however, as Travis Smith canned a triple the next time down the floor, sparking a 12-2 Mercer charge that saw the Bears go back in front by ten (61-51) with 5:48 to play.
Mercer would not relinquish that lead and went ahead by as many as 14 before the final buzzer.
Mercer outscored Jacksonville 34-31 in the second half, marking the 10th-straight game in which the Bears have outplayed their opponent in the final 20 minutes.
As a team, the Bears connected on 23 of their 36 shots on Monday to finish with a 63.9% field goal percentage. That performance was the team's second-best shooting game of the season, falling just short of their 24-of-36 effort at Navy.
Coursey had his second-straight game with four blocks, extending his conference leading block total to 49. He now is tied with Justin Howard for sixth place on the Mercer single-season block chart.
Mercer takes its winning ways on the road for its next contest at Stetson on Saturday, January 28. Game time is scheduled for 3:15 p.m.