James Florence was refreshed and ready to go.
So was E.J. Kusnyer. So was Jeff Smith.
And on and on.
Florence and his teammates were crushed after losing by two points to Kennesaw State on Wednesday.
On Saturday, they did the crushing.
The Bears were hitting on all cylinders for most of the game and put five players in double figures to blow out Stetson 91-57 on Saturday afternoon before nearly 2,500 at the University Center.
“We’re capable of playing that way because we have that kind of talent,” senior forward Danny Emerson said after his 13th double-double of the season and 28th of his career. “When everybody plays well, we’re going to have games like that.
“Even if you only have three or four out of five guys playing well, you’re going to win a good number of games.”
Mercer ended a three-game losing streak with the win, its largest margin of victory over a Division I opponent this year. The last time the Bears beat an A-Sun opponent by that kind of margin was back on Feb. 13, 1995, when Mercer smashed Florida Atlantic 95-58.
And in the 117 Mercer-Stetson meetings since the series debut on Feb. 2, 1920, when Mercer won 43-27, Saturday’s margin was the Bears’ largest margin.
The Bears improved to 10-11 overall and 6-5 in the A-Sun while the Hatters dropped to 5-15 and 3-9.
Mercer welcomes Florida Gulf Coast for a 9 p.m. tipoff on Monday with the game on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast as well as ESPN360.com.
On a day when Florence was honored for breaking the school scoring record, the senior didn’t quite light up the scoreboard, and he was fine with that.
“I’m more happy to have a 34-point win than anything else,” he said, pointing to the scoreboard.
Smith led the Bears with 25 points while Danny Emerson added 18 and Kusnyer 15. Florence and Brandon Moore had 11 each.
Emerson had a double-double, getting 12 rebounds, and Brian Mills missed the same by a point, grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds.
Smith had five assists and one turnover in 31 minutes and was 7-of-8 on 3-pointers while Kusnyer was a slump-breaking 5-of-8.
“I just cleared my mind,” said Kusnyer, apparently past a recent stretch of 11-for-40 from long distance. “I was just letting it go. Coach (Bob Hoffman) was like, ‘Think about one thing and just relax and knock your shot down.’ ”
Mercer shot 58.3 percent from 3-point range and 59.6 percent for the game.
Florence was honored before the game for becoming Mercer’s all-time leading scorer. He had a big smile as he negotiated the tunnel of teammates toward the center of the court.
Florence was joined by his mother, brother, niece, athletics director Bobby Pope, president William Underwood and Tommy Mixon, the school’s No. 3 all-time leading scorer in the pregame presentation.
There was a video of the shot that broke the record, coming early in the second half against Charlotte on Dec. 29, as well as a list of everybody Florence has played with at Mercer.
“I was nervous before I came out before the whole ceremony,” Florence said. “I had a little bit of jitters I don’t normally have at the beginning of the game.”
Florence and his family and Mercer officials were taking pictures while a video message from Mitchell played. The previous record-holder said he never thought that record would be broken, and wished the Bears luck in making the NCAA tournament.
But first came Stetson.
“We were poor defensively and they played well offensively,” said Hatters head coach Derek Waugh, whose team beat Mercer 76-69 on Jan. 22 in DeLand, Fla. “I think the game was decided when they had 20 points by the 12-minute mark. We don’t have the offensive firepower to keep up with that in any way, shape or form.”
Hoffman was thrilled with his team’s early defense.
“Our first 11 minutes on defense was really good,” he said. “It gave us a chance to get our feet wet and get into the game.”
The Bears doubled up the Hatters at 30-15 on Kusnyer’s third 3-pointer with 7:55 remaining in the half. Another one followed a minute later, and the lead grew to 18 before the Hatters then scored nine straight to inspire a Mercer timeout with 4:44 remaining.
Kusnyer hit another bomb 21 seconds later, and the lead returned to double figures and stayed there until a layup by with two seconds left in the half, pulling Stetson within 41-32 and displeasing Hoffman.
But that displeasure didn’t last. The Bears rolled past the Hatters in the second half, going up by 30 for the first time with 7:59 left.
“I thought they were a little off at our place, and we played really well,” Waugh said. “This was the exact opposite. The difference is when they’re a little off and we play well, we win by about six. When we’re a little off and they play well, we lose by whatever the it was.
“And they played well.”