ST. THOMAS, USVI (School Release)- Despite a career-high scoring effort from junior forward Darious Moten, the Mercer men's basketball team suffered a 62-36 loss to Illinois-Chicago in Saturday's second round of the Paradise Jam.
Mercer lost consecutive games for the first time since February 20, 2012 and fell to 2-2 on the season while Illinois-Chicago moved to 2-1 on the year.
"They played really well," Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. "They had the most energy, which is unusual for us. Right now we've got to figure ourselves out."
Moten's career-high eight points came on three-of-five shooting from the floor, including a thunderous driving two-hand slam in the first half. His eight-point output tied senior guard Travis Smith for the team's high point total.
Playing without injured point guard Langston Hall for the fourth-straight game, the Bears were plagued by turnovers at the outset, surrendering 10 in the opening 13:13 of play. Those miscues helped the Flames establish a 14-7 lead, which eventually swelled to 30-19 at halftime.
At the start of the second stanza, senior guard Chris Smith gave the Bears an immediate spark out of the break, grabbing a defensive rebound and scoring a driving layup in the first minute. Illinois-Chicago was quick to respond however, as sophomore forward Hayden Humes knocked down a triple just 18 seconds later.
Mercer cut its deficit to 10 twice after that, but the Flames responded with bursts each time to maintain control of the scoreboard.
Travis Smith's eight points came in conjunction with five rebounds, an assist and a steal. Moten also added a rebound in his 12 minutes of court time.
Mercer returns to action in its final game of the Paradise Jam on Monday at 2:30 p.m. EST. In that game, the Bears will face the loser of today's matchup between Wake Forest and Iona.