To the naked eye, the rims looked normal, the regulation 18 inches.
To the Mercer eye, the rims apparently looked like Hula Hoops.
All that was missing was for centers Daniel Coursey and Monty Brown to launch a 3-pointer for the first time in their college careers.
The odds were with them.
Mercer followed up a superb defensive performance Friday against Lipscomb with a long-distance shooting exhibition in rolling past Northern Kentucky 89-67 on Sunday afternoon in A-Sun mens basketball.
Officials rarely had to check the floor on perimeter shots because the Bears -- and often the Norse -- were far behind the 3-point line. Langston Hall hit a 27-footer and was closer to Northern Kentucky head coach Dave Bezold on another than he was a Norse defender.
Perhaps a half dozen made shots from both teams were closer to 25 feet away than the 3-point line at 20 feet, nine inches.
Youve just have to have confidence that you can make them, Hall said. If you do that, its going to go in a lot of times.
A lot of them went in Sunday. Hall led the Bears barrage with 25 points, his ninth 20-point game of the season, on 8-of-13 3-point shooting, plus eight assists and one turnover in 25 minutes.
One or two dribbles past (halfcourt), I feel I can let it go, Hall said. I dont really notice how deep I am when Im shooting.
Mercer had 22 assists on 30 baskets and only 11 turnovers, five in the final seven minutes.
Anthony White had 13 points and Bud Thomas 11.
All of Halls shots were 3-pointers. White was 2-for-2 on 3s, Thomas 3-for-4, Jake Gollon 1-for-1, Kevin Canevari 1-for-3 and Ike Nwamu 1-for-2, while Jibri Bryan missed both of his long tries.
The Bears made a school-record 16 3s, on 27 tries for 59.3 percent. They hit 9-of-11 at one point in the first half en route to a 52-30 halftime lead.
Right before halftime, me and Lang were trying to figure out how many 3s wed hit before halftime, said Thomas, who became the 38th member of Mercers 1,000-point club in the first half. In the midst of it, youre not really thinking about it, but when you take a step back and look, youve got 52 points. Lang hit 3s, I hit 3s.
Wed all been kinda hot.
The Bears shot 58.8 percent overall while the Norse countered with a respectable 43.4 percent overall and 38.1 percent on 3s.
That was unbelievable, Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. We executed at such a high level in the first half. The defense was good, not great. Our offense was fantastic.
Tyler White led Northern Kentucky with 16, while Daniel Camps added 14, Murray 12 and Jordan Jackson 11.
The Bears improved to 21-6 overall and 12-2 in the A-Sun, remaining undefeated at home, while the Norse dropped to 8-19 and 4-11. Mercer now gets ready for the biggest game of the season, Fridays showdown at Florida Gulf Coast. The Bears have a one-game lead over the Eagles with four games left.
Mercer will work on putting together the defense of Friday and the offense of most of Sunday.
Were playing pretty well right now, Thomas said. This is a great two-game stretch for us.
A 15-0 run -- with 3s from White, Thomas and Hall -- pushed the lead to 32 at the 14:02 mark. It maxed out at 34. Still, Mercer didnt quite finish to Hoffmans satisfaction, and he yanked the backups out with five minutes left and a 25-point lead. The Bears were stuck on 82 points for nearly five minutes, the lead dropping from 82-49 to 82-60 before the drought was broken at the 3:16 mark.
Hoffman began re-inserting the backups within a minute of Courseys three-point play broke the dry spell.
Some of them didnt do as well as Id like, and I let them know about it, Hoffman said. And some did amazing, and I let them know about it.