Cummings finds his stride, Bears get back on track with win


Image: Christian Hartley

Mercer squared off against Brewton-Parker.

The Mercer men’s basketball team welcomed the Brewton-Parker Barons (1-5, 0-0) to Hawkins Arena on Tuesday afternoon.

The Bears (4-3, 0-0) could not buy a basket for most of the first half, but thankfully neither could the Barons. The teams started the game shooting a combined 14-of-46 from the floor, but it was Mercer who closed the half on a 22-7 run to take a 38-26 lead into halftime.

The second half was all Mercer, or more specifically, all Ross Cummings. The Bears sophomore guard came out of the halftime locker room on fire, scoring 15 of his game-high 31 points in the half’s opening six minutes. This is a welcome sign for the young guard who has struggled to shoot the ball so far this season.

The Bears never took their foot off the gas until the final buzzer rang, but by then it was far too late. Despite giving up 15 3-pointers, the Bears got the victory 90 to 65.

Quick Takes

(1) Another slow start on offense

Mercer’s offense has had notable trouble finding rhythm on the offensive end early in games this season, and Tuesday night was no exception. The Bears allowed Brewton-Parker to hang around in the first half, even trailing 19-16 with under seven minutes to go.

(2) This team can defend

One of the more consistent themes for this year’s edition of Mercer men’s basketball is their ability to play solid defense. The Bears allowed Brewton-Parker to shoot just 31-percent from the floor, in line with the team’s numbers for the season. The Mercer defense currently ranks second in the SoCon in points per game allowed and opponent field goal percentage.

(3) Mamba finds his stride

Ross Cummings, deemed the Mamba by his teammates, is known for his lethal ability to knock down the 3-pointer. However, Cummings has been struggling this season from the 3-point line, shooting just 33-percent and making just 12 total 3-pointers on the season. The sophomore guard got back on track Tuesday night, knocking down seven 3’s in the game, a season-high. For a team that is struggling to score the ball heading into SoCon action, it’s imperative that he play more consistent for this team to be successful.

Player of the Game: Ross Cummings (#20)

(1) The sophomore guard scored 31 points, a new career-high

(2) ‘The Mamba’ made all eight of Mercer’s 3-pointers on the night, also a new career high for the guard

(3) Cummings also contributed three assists, two rebounds and one steal

Notable Quotables

(1) Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman on Ross Cummings performance:

“He’s a shooter. You just want him to keep on shooting. Our guys did a great job of finding him all night.”

(2) Hoffman on his team’s slow start on offense:

“Tonight was definitely a slow start. We had some layups that we missed and we allowed an athletic team that can make shots to hang around. I’m not worried about us scoring, I think we are going to score.”

(3) Hoffman on improvements needed heading into SoCon play:

“We’ve just got to be good with the ball because they’re [The Citadel] going to press us every possession. It’ll be relentless. We’re going to have to take care of the ball and really contest shots.