The Mercer men’s basketball team opened up its conference schedule against the Lipscomb University Bison on Thursday, Dec. 1, in Nashville, TN. The Bears went 2-1 last year against the Bison, with their only loss coming on Dec. 4, 2010, in Nashville. The Bears would go on to take the final two meetings between the schools. Mercer defeated the Bison during the last game of the regular season, and defeated them again five days later in the opening round of the 2011 Atlantic Sun tournament.
On Thursday, the Bears continued their recent success against Lipscomb with a 79-72 win. The offensive front was paced by senior Justin Cecil. Cecil finished the night with 22 points, seven rebounds, one assist, two steals and one block. Redshirt sophomore Jakob Gollon also made his presence known by contributing 18 points, one assist and one steal. The defensive effort was fantastic, as the Bears combined for 13 steals and 36 rebounds.
Overall, the Bears shot 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from long range and 80 percent from the free-throw line. “Winning a conference game on the road is always tough to do,” said sophomore Bud Thomas. “We couldn’t have asked for a better way for the first conference game to end up,” Thomas added.
The Bears continued their Music City road trip on Saturday, Dec. 3, against the 2011 Atlantic Sun champions, the Belmont Bruins. Belmont beat Mercer in the semi-finals of the 2011 Atlantic Sun Tournament. The Bruins beat the Bears 80-72 before routing the University of North Florida Ospreys in the finals. The rematch on Saturday was just as good of a game, with the Bruins coming out on top 82-78. Down 11 at the half, the Bears would claw back and draw within three with under two minutes left. The offense was led by Langston Hall. Hall, a sophomore out of Chamblee High School, finished the game with 23 points, four rebounds, four assists and one steal. Gollon had another great game, adding 17 points of his own, as well as eight rebounds and four assists. Sophomore Daniel ‘Moustache’ Coursey had a great game as well, contributing 18 points to the Bears’ offensive effort. Coursey also had four blocks against both the Bruins and the Bison.
“It was a tough four point loss, but I’m proud of the way we fought back. Just got to keep working and grinding,” said Hall after the loss. The Bears finished their road trip 1-1 and their record is now 5-2, 1-1 in conference play.
Before hosting the Progressive College Basketball Experience (CBE) Classic sub-regional, the Bears travelled to Greenville, SC, to play the Furman University Paladins on Nov. 17. The Bears came away with a 66-46 victory. The Bears’ starters combined for 54 of the Bears’ 66 points and the effort was fairly balanced: Bud Thomas had 16 pts; Cecil and Coursey contributed 11 points each, while Gollon and Hall contributed 10 and six respectively. “It was just a really great ‘team’ win. I liked how we played tonight; I liked our defensive intensity,” said Head Coach Bob Hoffman on mercerbears.com. The Bears’ next home game is Saturday, Dec. 10 against Chattanooga.