MACON, Ga. (School Release)- The Mercer University men's basketball team rode an overpowering defensive effort to a 70-25 victory over Oglethorpe on Monday night at Hawkins Arena. Sophomore Jibri Bryan paced the Bears with 12 points in the victory.
Mercer's wire-to-wire victory improved to the team to 2-0 for the first time since 2009 and pushed its overall winning streak to seven. The Bears are now unbeaten in their last four matches at Hawkins Arena.
The outset saw Mercer hold Oglethorpe scoreless for 9:25 en route to an early 12-0 advantage. By halftime, the Stormy Petrels had only registered 12 points, marking Mercer's best defensive half since limiting USC Upstate to 11 points in the first half on February 4, 2012.
Mercer's 25 points allowed on Monday night established the team's best defensive performance since defeating Lander 47-23 on January 25, 1972.
Bryan's 12 points were fueled by four-of-six shooting from three-point range in 20 minutes of work. Junior guard Kevin Canevari also cracked double-figures, scoring a career-high 10 points in the win.
Canevari's career-night also featured personal bests in field goals made (4), three-point field goals (2), steals (5) and minutes played (18).
Bryan was the offensive catalyst of Mercer's strong start, canning two three-pointers in the opening 6:47 of the game. Oglethorpe finally got on the board at the 10:35 mark of the first half with a free throw by senior Christian Molinet, but Mercer continued to clamp down defensively and pushed its lead 21-4 with 6:25 left in the first stanza.
Bryan's third trey of the first half came with 51 tics to play and sent the Bears into the locker room on top, 32-12.
Mercer stayed hot during intermission and employed a 10-0 charge at the start of the second frame to go ahead 44-12. With 4:32 to play, Mercer was ahead 57-23 before finishing the contest on a 13-2 run.
Ten Mercer players reached the scoring column in the victory. Senior Travis Smith poured in eight points in 19 minutes of action, while freshman Lawrence Brown added eight of his own on three-of-four shooting in 12 minutes of play.
Mercer takes its 2-0 record to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands for competition in the Paradise Jam, beginning on Friday. In the first round of the tournament, the Bears are slated to meet George Mason at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time.