In the final two games before the end of the season, the Mercer bears split their games against conference foes Lipscomb and Belmont.
The first match-up for the Bears was against the Lipscomb University Bison. Sophomore Bud Thomas led the Bears to victory with an impressive 15-point performance. Mercer improved its record to 21-9 (13-4 A-Sun) and snapped a two-game losing streak while Lipscomb dropped its fourth-straight contest and fell to 12-17 (7-10 A-Sun).
“They hit some shots tonight but our guys found a way,” Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. “[Lipscomb head coach Scott Sanderson] is a great coach and always has his guys playing really hard,” added Hoffman.
Thomas’ 15 points came on 7-for-10 shooting and combined with five rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks. Mercer sophomore Daniel Coursey scored 12 points while also tallying five rebounds and five blocks.
Coursey’s five blocks marked the seventh time this season he has collected four or more blocks in a single game. His season block total after this game was 68, four short of tying Scott Farley’s program record set during the 1995-96 season. The Savannah, Ga. native now owns sole possession of second place on this list.
Travis Smith finished the game with eight points and a season-high six rebounds and four assists. Senior Justin Cecil also booked eight points, all scored in the first half of play.
The Bears collected a season-high 10 blocks in the win and pushed the team’s rejection total to 144. That figure ranks third among program single-season team leaders. Mercer also had an impressive season-low six turnovers in comparison to 13 assists.
The next match-up was against the Belmont Bruins. Belmont was already crowned regular season champions because the Bears put themselves mathematically out of the equation in the previous weekend.
In front of one of the largest turnouts in UC history, a crowd of over 3,000 people came to watch the men’s basketball team take top-seeded Belmont to the very last second, but redshirt sophomore Jakob Gollon’s last second jumper could not drop as the Bruins escaped with a 62-61 victory. On a day in which he was honored as the lone senior on senior night before his final regular season-game at the UC, Justin Cecil led all scorers with 17 points.
Cecil’s 17 points came on the strength of 5of 9 shooting from three-point range in 25 minutes of play. He also booked six rebounds and two steals in the losing effort.
Langston Hall scored in double figures for the seventh time in his last eight games, collecting 13 points, three assists, two rebounds and a steal. Daniel Coursey posted eight points and tied career-high with six blocks, moving his season rejection total to 74. That figure broke the program’s previous single-season block record of 72 held by Scott Farley.
Mercer’s loss was the team’s first defeat at the hands of an A-Sun opponent in the UC this season.