For the second time this season, Mercer and Furman went down to the wire in Thursday night’s Southern Conference game at Hawkins Arena.
And just like the first game, Furman pulled out a two-point win.
Daniel Fowler’s jumper with 2.3 seconds left lifted the Paladins to a 70-68 win in Southern Conference play. Mercer had a chance to tie or get the win in the closing seconds, but junior Ria’n Holland came up short on a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Furman improves to 15-8 overall and 8-2 in the conference with the Paladins sitting atop the conference. Mercer falls to 11-13 and 5-6 as it had its three-game winning streak snapped.
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The Bears didn’t hit a shot in the final 6 minutes, 20 seconds. Mercer shot only 37.7 percent from the floor (20-of-53), while Furman shot 53.3 percent (24-of-45). The Paladins hit 12 3-pointers.
Four who mattered
Holland: The junior led the Bears with 18 points, including 14 in the first half. He was 6-of-14 from the floor, including two 3-pointers.
Jordan Strawberry: The junior point guard added 11 points.
Fowler: The junior had 18 points to lead the Paladins, including three 3-pointers.
Devin Sibley: The Furman junior had 15 points, including three 3-pointers.
Mercer had a nine-point lead twice in the second half, but the Paladins’ 3-point shooting led their comeback
Strong offense: Furman’s offense was strong throughout, but the Paladins were on the mark in the second half, hitting 12-of-20 from the floor (60 percent).
Hitting at the line: Mercer kept itself in the game by making its free throws. The Bears were 19-of-22 at the free-throw line.
Nice bench play: All five Mercer reserves who played scored, contributing 22 bench points.
Close calls: Mercer is 3-7 in one-possession games. Four of the Bears’ conference losses have each come by two points.
They said it
Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman on the loss: “We had opportunities to win. You can’t let a team shoot 60 percent in a half, and we were still one possession of getting it done or shot to go in. I hate it for our guys because they played their butts off (Thursday) night, and we weren’t able to get the win.”
Hoffman on the shooting drought late: “We just didn’t make a shot. We tried to run a bunch of different things. It was a really physical game. We finally got to the free-throw line at the end. There was a lot of bumping a grinding going on. It became more and more physical as the second half wore on. We hit free throws, most of them, when we had opportunities. We didn’t get the line as much as I thought we should have.”
Holland on another close loss to Furman: “They hit big shots. We had some breakdowns defensively down the stretch, and they executed well and hit big shots.”
Mercer finishes off its four-game homestand at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday against Wofford.