Mercer hosts watch party for SoCon Basketball Championship

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Image: Mary Helene Hall

Members of the Mercer community watch the March 8 men’s basketball game at the watch party in Mercer Village.

Mercer University hosted a watch party on the main street of Mercer Village for its men’s basketball team’s championship game Monday night.

The watch party featured a two-story projection screen to display the game, which aired on ESPN. Mercer also provided picnic tables. Students, faculty and staff were invited to attend the event. Masks and social distancing were required.

The watch party resulted in the closure of the stretch of Montpelier Avenue that passes through the Mercer Village area. Traffic cones were placed at either end of the stretch of road to prevent drivers from entering Mercer Village in their vehicles as the watch party was set up.

Mercer officials announced the watch party Monday between noon and 1 p.m. via email and social media. Mercer students were required to move their vehicles from the Mercer Village street parking prior to 3 p.m. Monday to make room for the event.

The watch party was scheduled to occur from 6 p.m to 9 p.m, leaving room on either side of the basketball game, which began at 7 p.m. People attending the watch party were encouraged to support local restaurants by ordering dinner from Mercer Village businesses.

The watch party was organized after Mercer’s men’s basketball team won three consecutive games to advance to the Southern Conference Championship Game in Asheville, North Carolina. The Bears were the seventh-ranked team in the tournament and had to upset multiple teams to reach the championship.

Mercer faced the top-seeded University of North Carolina Greensboro Spartans in the tournament’s championship game. After an exciting game with several lead changes, the Bears were unable to complete the upset and eventually fell to the Spartans by a score of 69-61.

Mercer’s women’s basketball team also reached their respective conference championship game this week, although there was no watch party held for the matchup. The game took place Sunday at noon and ended with a 60-38 victory for Mercer over the opposing Wofford Terriers.

The championship granted the women’s team an entrance into the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament that begins March 21.