Cummings scores 36, men’s basketball win first SoCon game


Image: Christian Hartley

Sophomore point guard Marcus Cohen (No. 3) dribbles the ball up the floor as junior Jaylen Stowe (No. 2) prepares to set the screen.

Men’s basketball entered Thursday night’s battle with Western Carolina on a two-game skid, looking to get back in the victory column.

The Catamounts (4-13, 1-3) have had a rollercoaster of a season, but came into the game riding a victory over conference foe Samford which gave them their first conference win of the year. A mark the Bears were still trying to attain.

The game was fast-paced and extremely close the entire way through. However, a 15-0 run to start the second half put the Bears up 56-46, their largest lead of the game.

The Catamounts closed the gap down the stretch, cutting Mercer’s lead down to one point with under a minute to go. But smart, strong play from the Bears got them the 84-80 victory in the end.


Quick Takes

(1) Mercer must be more aggressive

Despite shooting nearly 55 percent from the floor in the first half, the Bears allowed the Catamounts to hang around. Why? Two words: free-throws. The Catamounts were 11-of-17 from the free throw line, compared to just 6-11 by the Bears. The second half was a different story, as the Bears drove the ball to the basket, drew more fouls and ultimately pulled away because of it.

(2) Where was the defense?

Mercer gave up 46 points in the first half, by far their most of the 2018-2019 season. Thankfully for Mercer, their offense allowed them to hang around, which hasn’t always been the case this season. The second half wasn’t much better, but the Bears offense was good enough, in the end, to get the job done in what felt like a must-win game.

(3) Home, sweet home

Mercer is performing much better in their home of Hawkins Arena. After Thursday’s game, the Bears improved to 6-1 at home. In stark contrast, the Bears are winless in road contests, sitting at 0-8 on the year. They will get an opportunity to change that on January 17 when they face ETSU on the road.


Player of the Game: Ross Cummings, No. 20

  • Cummings came out swinging, scoring 14 of Mercer’s first 19 points
  • The junior guard finished with 36 points, setting a new career-high in points
  • Cummings hit seven three-pointers, including a missile from 30 feet to ice the game for the Bears


Notable Quotables

(1) Head Coach Bob Hoffman on securing first SoCon win…

It was a really big win for us tonight. We finally finished down the stretch and we will keep growing and build off this win. I am thankful we were able to find a way to get it done.”

(2) Hoffman talks about Cummings’ huge game…

Ross was amazing. Our guys finding him, using him as a decoy was great. I love how he will not just settle when he has opportunities. But the huge three he hit to finish the game was a big play.”

(3) Hoffman on winning a close game…

“Not that I’m counting, but we’re 2-6 in [games decided] four points or less. You can use that two different ways. You can think, well we’ve been in a lot of tough games so we just got to make one or two plays like we did tonight to finish, and we haven’t done that in all those others. But we’ve got to keep growing and keep getting better.”