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There was no other option.

Mercer had to win to continue its path toward the NCAA Tournament.

The Bears sealed the deal with a 68-60 win In the A-Sun conference championship against Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday.

After a bus trip that lasted longer than the game, the squad returned to Mercer's campus early Monday morning. Coach Bob Hoffman was still awake when the bus pulled up to the rear of Hawkins Arena, and looked back on the Bears' journey.

"Just knowing the fruits of these guys labor., and how hard they worked last season to now, to get to enjoy that together today... it doesn't happen in one year," Hoffman said. "We built something special. It took a while, and those guys in the first few years helped build the culture that helped us win today."

Langston Hall and Anthony White, Jr. led the Bears with 15 points apiece.

Still, they gave all the credit to the team.

"We don't really worry about single stats or what we're doing personally, said White, Jr. "We worry about everybody making sure we're all playing for each other and that makes us that much better."

Hall reflected on past experiences in the A-Sun tournament.

"We always stay together no matter what. In my sophomore year, we lost in the semifinals. My junior year, we lost in the championship, but nobody got down on each other. That just made us work harder."

Mercer now has the week off for Spring Break, before this year's bracket is set on Selection Sunday.

Follow 13WMAZ's Wes Blankenship on Twitter: @Wes_nship

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