When a team is rebuilding, looking good early is a pleasant surprise and struggling isn’t.
Mercer and Georgia College are both rebuilding, and one head coach probably woke up Friday a little bit happier than the other.
Mercer took control early in the second half and pulled away from Georgia College 85-58 on Thursday at the University Center in the second half of the Coaches vs. Cancer exhibition doubleheader.
The Bears and Bobcats are doing plenty of integrating this season with new personnel all over. But Mercer looked like it had a definite edge in progress so far.
Mercer got good scoring balance, with nine Bears getting at least five points, led by senior Brian Mills’ 16 points and senior Brandon Moore’s 14.
“(Thursday night) was a tremendous building block in the right direction,” said Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman, who got points from 12 of the 16 Bears who played. “We talked before the game that we’re not trying to win a championship (Thursday night); we’re just trying to have one building block after another and this was the first step.”
Georgia College was a little top heavy in scoring for awhile but ended up with some balance. Jared Holmes led with 17 while Ryan Aquino and Ryan Legates added 13 each and Reece Wiedeman 10.
Head coach Terry Sellers was not thrilled with his team’s performance.
“We’ve gotten beaten; certainly we’ve lost games before,” he said. “We’ve always been a team. That’s how we’ve had successful years, working together on both ends of the floor.
“We didn’t help each other on the offensive end; we didn’t screen well for each other. We didn’t help each other on the defensive end. They just out-toughed us big time. They dominated us inside. We allowed the ball, they just got it inside any time they wanted.”
Mercer had a 36-28 rebound advantage, led by Mills’ eight, and had three more turnovers than assists to Georgia College giving it up 16 times to nine assists.
Georgia College managed a few early leads, the final one with 12:47 left in the first half. Freshman Bud Thomas hit a 3-pointer about five seconds later for a 13-12 Mercer lead, and the Bears never trailed again.
Mercer led 37-28, and Sellers hoped his team could come out of the locker room strong.
“I thought we were in good shape,” he said. “We didn’t play well in the first half. I thought the second half, we would play much better.”
But the Bears charged out with a 9-2 run for a 46-30 lead.
Then 3-pointers by Smith, Mills and Hall put Mercer up 58-38 with 11:53 left in the game.
“We’ve had competitive guys in the past,” Sellers said. “We didn’t compete like we normally compete.”
Mercer hit on 51.8 percent of its shots to 41.5 percent for Georgia College, which connected on only one 3-pointer on 13 tries. The Bears were 9-of-20 from long range with seven making a 3-pointer.
The Bears were 18-of-22 from the free-throw line to 13-of-23 for the Bobcats.
“I liked our team defense,” Hoffman said. “I thought our team defense as really good against a great coached team that executes every trip. They run good stuff. You’ve got to guard it every trip, or they’re going to get something.”