Hoffman's bunch tested on road, protect home court


The Mercer Bears men’s basketball team went 4-4 over the 2011-2012 Winter Break, including snatching two wins on the road against top-tier competition in Navy and Georgia Tech, which was the first win against the Yellow Jackets in over three decades. Besides the big wins, the Bears experienced some tough losses that showed how far the Bears have come under Coach Bob Hoffman. Following the tough overtime loss versus Seton Hall, Hoffman claimed that “(the Bears) are getting better every day.”

Mercer 77, Seton Hall 80
The Bears fought back several times, including from 13 down to force overtime in Newark, NJ, but Seton Hall held on in overtime to win their ninth out of 10 games on the year. Three Bears fouled out, but not before keeping the game much closer than anyone at Seton Hall ever thought. Justin Cecil had 18 points, and Jakob Gollon picked up a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. All five starters finished in double figures for the Bears in scoring, but no one could touch the Pirates’ Herb Pope at 24 points and 17 rebounds.
Mercer 58, Georgia 72
The Bears’ winless streak against UGA hit 15, as the Bears were unable to do much in the second half following the Bulldogs opening on a 16-3 run. As in the game against Seton Hall, the Bears had a significantly less number of free throws than the home team. Langston Hall led the Bears with 16 points. Jakob Gollon added seven.
Mercer 65, Georgia Tech 59
For the first time since 1974, the Bears went up against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and walked away with a victory, stunning the home team. The Bears outscored the Yellow Jackets over the last 8:45 to turn a seven-point deficit into the six-point victory. Monty Brown had 13 points to lead the Bears. However, Tech’s Glen Rice kept it close with 19 points and 11 boards.
Mercer 62, Tulsa 68
Trying to parlay their success in Atlanta to an away game at Tulsa, the Bears came up short. The Golden Hurricane of Tulsa built a huge lead early, and despite the Bears whittling it away, Tulsa was able to come back when it mattered most. Jakob Gollon had 12 points and five assists, and Daniel Coursey had 10 points and an impressive six blocks.
Mercer 65, Navy 56
An overwhelming effort in the second half saw the Bears return the favor from last season, winning on Navy’s home floor. The Navy game saw the Bears get to 8-5 on the season against non-conference foes, the best in seven years. Jakob Gollon continued his impressive play, picking up 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Travis Smith added 11 points. The Midshipmen were outrebounded 31-16.
FGCU 54, Mercer 76
The first home game for Mercer in Atlantic Sun play this year kept the momentum moving in the right direction for the Bears, as the FGCU Eagles were handily beaten. The Bears led by 20 at the break. Justin Cecil dropped 24 points on the Eagles, with Bud Thomas and Travis Smith adding 13 and 11.
Stetson 59, Mercer 75
The Hatters of Stetson did not have a good trip to Mercer, as Bud Thomas led the Bears with 16 points to spank their opponents. Monty Brown had 13, Justin Cecil had 12 and Jakob Gollon had 11, helping lead a balanced attack. The Bears outrebounded the Hatters 38-29.
Mercer 61, ETSU 76
The three-game winning streak was snapped by Mercer’s “worst game of the year” according to Bob Hoffman. The Bears last led at 7-6, only to see that be their only lead of the night. Justin Cecil had 17, but it would not be enough. ETSU stayed undefeated at home.