MACON, Ga. - For the second time this season, the Mercer men's basketball team booked a thrilling overtime victory to preserve an unbeaten record at Hawkins Arena. This time, Jacksonville was the victim by a 67-64 count in Thursday night's Atlantic Sun tilt.
Mercer's 12th-straight home win pushed the team to 15-9 (8-3 A-Sun) on the season while Jacksonville slipped to 12-13 (7-5 A-Sun). The Bears also extended their winning streak to three while keeping pace in the race for the league's regular season title.
Junior Langston Hall led all scorers with a season-high 23 points while senior Travis Smith booked 14 and junior Jakob Gollon added 11. While Hall made clutch shots all night, it was Smith who dialed up the game's biggest bucket.
After Mercer and Jacksonville battled to a 58-58 tie in regulation, the teams found themselves deadlocked at 64-64 with under a minute to go in overtime. Hall found Smith on the wing, who elevated over a rising defender and canned a deep three to put the Bears in front with 30 seconds remaining.
Jacksonville head coach Cliff Warren called a timeout and drew up plans for the final possession. With 15 seconds to go, Jacksonville junior Javon Dawson launched a contested three that was off the mark, but freshman Kordario Fleming tracked down the offensive rebound on the baseline. Fleming dished to Dawson, who hoisted another game-tying attempt with three seconds to go, but once again his shot found iron and Hall came away with the rebound.
Mercer's 12th consecutive win at home dates back to last season and is tied with St. Mary's (Calif.), Butler, Akron and Virginia for the 15th-longest such streak in the nation. Mercer's win was also its fourth-straight overtime triumph at home.
Hall collected 17 of his 23 points after the first half, shooting seven-of-nine from the floor in the final 25 minutes. Hall touched every column of the final box score with four rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block.
Smith's 14 points came in conjunction with three rebounds, two assists and a steal in 36 minutes. Gollon registered five rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal to go along with his 11 points.
Mercer led by as many as 12 in the first half before Jacksonville closed the period on a 12-2 run to cut the deficit to 27-25 at halftime. In the second half, Mercer led 57-53 before Jacksonville senior Russell Powell swished a three and Fleming scored a layup to take a one point lead with eight seconds remaining.
Down by one, Hall drove to the tin and was fouled with three seconds on the clock. He calmly drained the first of his free throws, but the second toss was off the mark and the game went to overtime.
Mercer returns to conference play on Saturday, welcoming North Florida to Hawkins Arena at 4:30 p.m.