JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Mercer men's basketball team smothered a potent North Florida offense on Thursday night in a 66-47 win at UNF Arena. Four Mercer players reached double-figure scoring in the win, led by senior Travis Smith's 15 points.
The Bears' fourth win in its last five games sent the team to 10-7 (3-1 A-Sun) on the season while UNF dropped to 7-11 (2-3 A-Sun). The Bears are now 3-1 in the A-Sun for the second-straight season.
Smith's 15 points marked the fourth-straight game he's led the Bears offensively. Joining him in double-digits were juniors Bud Thomas (14), Anthony White, Jr. (12) and Langston Hall (10).
White Jr. had his best collegiate game since transferring from Lake Land Junior College prior to the academic year. His 12 points marked a Division I career-high and came on efficient five-of-seven shooting.
Mercer rushed out to a 6-0 lead in the opening 90 seconds, but a three-ball from UNF freshman Beau Beech started an 8-0 Osprey charge that put the hosts on top at the first media timeout. When action resumed, White, Jr. poured in five points in 24 seconds to put Mercer back in front.
His spurt ushered-in a 16-2 Mercer run that put the Bears in front by 12 (24-12) with 7:16 to go before halftime. During that run, Mercer's defense clamped down and held UNF to just one field goal in over 8:30 of game time.
The Bears' would push that lead to 14 before UNF freshman Ray Rodriguez closed the half's scoring with a layup to make Mercer's lead 32-20 at halftime.
Rodriguez did his best to bring the Ospreys back, canning three triples in 65 seconds to cut the deficit to seven midway through the half.
But Mercer proved resilient as Thomas and Smith scored the game's next five points to push the lead back to double-digits. With just over six minutes to play, the Bears led 56-46 before White Jr. hit another pull-up jumper to spark the Bears offense again. The subsequent 8-0 surge put the game out of reach.
Sophomore T.J. Hallice played a career-high 30 minutes and responded with two points, five rebounds and a block. Junior Jakob Gollon registered six points, eight rebounds, four steals and an assist in the winning effort.
The Bears continue their River City stay at Jacksonville on Saturday. Tip time is scheduled for 3:15 p.m.