MACON, Ga. (School Release) - Senior Travis Smith scored a career-high 25 points to propel the Mercer men's basketball team to a 70-64 win over Stetson in Monday evening's Atlantic Sun Conference opener at Hawkins Arena.
Mercer's fourth win in its last five games moved the Bears to 8-6 (1-0 A-Sun) and kept the team unbeaten at Hawkins Arena, while Stetson dropped to 3-9 (0-1 A-Sun). The game also marked the third time in five seasons that Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman has won the A-Sun opener.
Smith's 25 points led three Mercer players in double figures and came on the strength of seven-of-15 field goal shooting, including five-of-nine aim from beyond the arc. The Johns Island, South Carolina native has now posted double-figures in three of the last four games and hit five three pointers in two-straight outings.
Juniors Jakob Gollon and Langston Hall also cracked into double figures, registering 11 and 10 points, respectively. Gollon added seven rebounds, two steals and an assist to his coffers while Hall tallied four assists and three rebounds.
Stetson junior Aaron Graham was blistering hot at the start, scoring 14 points in the first 14 minutes of play to help the visitors stay out front for the majority of the first half. The Hatters held their biggest lead of the game (20-15) at the 7:31 juncture before the Bears closed the period on a 13-6 run to assume a 28-26 halftime edge.
Mercer's lead crept to five early on in the second period, but back-to-back threes by Stetson's Adam Pegg and Joel Naburgs put the Hatters back in front, 34-33, with 17:51 to play. Over the next four minutes, a flurry of offense featured three tie scores and three lead changes.
Late in the game, Mercer's lead was 53-52 when Gollon drove to the hole for a left-handed layup. His bucket ignited an 8-0 Mercer blitz that brought the crowd to its feet and put the Bears up nine with three minutes to go. From then on, Stetson could get no closer than six.
Smith poured in 15 second half points, while all 10 of Hall's points came in the second frame. Junior Daniel Coursey also scored all eight of his points in the second half.
Stetson out-rebounded Mercer 21-18 in the first half, but the Bears came back to out-board the Hatters 22-13 in the second half. Mercer's rebounding edge established the fifth time in the last seven games the Bears have held that statistical edge. Junior Bud Thomas led all players with eight rebounds, while junior Monty Brown joined Gollon with seven.
Mercer returns to action hosting Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.