Men's basketball beats Lipscomb, loses to Belmont in A-Sun tourney

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(Alex Lockwood / Cluster Staff) Brian Mills led the Bears in a rousing effort during Mercer’s two tournament games before spring break.

By: Garret McDowell

(Alex Lockwood / Cluster Staff) Brian Mills led the Bears in a rousing effort during Mercer's two tournament games before spring break.

Despite having a chance late in the Atlantic wwSun semifinal tournament game against eventual champion Belmont, the Bruins eliminated Mercer 80-72 to drop the Bears’ overall record to 15-18, 11-9 in conference play and 1-1 in the tournament.

Mercer 73, Lipscomb 63
In what might have been the loudest night for a Mercer game this season, the Bears took on Lipscomb in the four-five seed game in the 2011 Atlantic Sun Men’s Basketball Championship. The Bears were led by Brian Mills and Mark Hall as the two seniors continued to keep the team calm and motivated to maintain a double-digit lead throughout the raucous contest. Brian Mills scored 27, a game-high total, and contributed six boards and two blocks. This was the 26th time this season that Brian Mills scored in the double digits. Mark Hall added 12 and teammate Bud Thomas had an important 12 points.

Last year’s conference Player of the Year was Lipscomb’s Adnan Hodzic. His 18 points per game average was cut in half and the Bears’ pesky defense held him in check all night. Lipscomb’s other big player, Josh Slater, added 18 points. This was the second consecutive win over Lipscomb for Mercer in back-to-back contest. They led by 11 at the half and then led by as much as 14 during the game.

Head coach Bob Hoffman added afterwards, “Our guys played tough and they played tough for 40 minutes. I didn’t want to hear anything else other than we are going to fight harder.”

Belmont 80, Mercer 72
Despite being the home team and having a partisan crowd, Mercer was unable to upset the tournament favorite Belmont as the Bruins won in an incredibly hostile environment. Brian Mills performed well, recording his fifth double-double this season with a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds. The Bears were out in front early but that early lead against Belmont disappeared for the second day in a row, just as Kennesaw lost control the day prior in the first round.

Mercer clawed their way back into the game as Jake Gollon scored 19 points on the night, but Belmont beat Mercer on the boards 35 to 27, completely taking away the shooting advantage and enthusiastic crowd. They had four players hit double figures and all 11 Bruins who saw action on the court were able to score at least one field goal. Belmont went on to defeat North Florida in the championship by 41 points, receiving the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.