MACON, Ga. (Jan. 17, 2013) – While the ETSU men’s basketball team overcame a 19-point second half deficit to win in its last outing, the Buccaneers could not work that same magic Thursday night against the Mercer Bears.
Falling behind by 18 points in the second half, the Bucs could get no closer than 11 points and ultimately dropped a 78-59 decision to Mercer in Atlantic Sun Conference play at Hawkins Arena. With the loss, ETSU drops to 4-14 overall, 2-3 in A-Sun play. Meanwhile, Mercer improves to 11-8, 4-2.
“We just weren’t good enough,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “There’s a reason they were the preseason favorite in the league and they looked like it tonight. We didn’t coach well, and our guys didn’t play well. All around it wasn’t good.”
While Mercer was a sterling 19-of-23 from the foul line and hit nine shots from 3-point range, ETSU missed 11 of its last 12 free throws of the contest and finished 5-of-15 from the line for the game.
For the Bears, four players scored in double figures with Travis Smith netting a game-high 18 points to lead the way. ETSU got a team-high 12 points from senior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis), and he was the only Buccaneers’ player in double figures.
In the first half, the Bucs and Bears traded offensive runs early on and the game was tied at 22-22 on a jumper by Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) with just over 6:20 left before the break. However, from that point forward Mercer put together a 17-6 run to build a 39-28 advantage at the break.
ETSU shot a strong 50 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Bears 14-10 in the first half, but Mercer enjoyed a perfect 10-of-10 clip at the foul line and hit seven 3-pointers over the Bucs’ zone defense to build their lead.
After the break, the Bucs allowed the Bears to open on an 11-4 run and take a 50-32 advantage with 15:19 left in the game. The Bucs responded with 12-5 spurt to make it 58-47, but that would be as close as the Bucs would get the rest of the game.
ETSU will return to action on Saturday at Kennesaw State, with tip time set for 2:30 p.m. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2012-13 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.