Sports

Mercer overwhelms Fisk in home opener

The game started about 10 minutes late.

That was a good thing for the visitor, but it only delayed the inevitable.

Mercer had a 10-point lead before three minutes had elapsed and cracked the 20-point margin within 10 and was up by 30 for the first time with 3:43 left before halftime, rolling to a 110-45 win Wednesday night over Fisk in the Bears’ home opener at the University Center.

Everything went as planned for the Bears against the NAIA school from Nashville, Tenn., in front of a surprisingly large crowd — including a sizable and loud student section — of more than 2,000.

“I thought we had a great crowd,” Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. “It was really great energy. It was a great way to start.”

Mercer’s starters topped out at 23 minutes of action, led by Jeff Smith, who had nine points in that span. The Bears had 10 players get at least 10 minutes.

Danny Emerson reached double-double status with 4:33 left in the first half en route to 14 points and 12 rebounds in 22 minutes.

E.J. Kusnyer had 14, and James Florence and Ridas Pulkauninkas had 13 each.

Junior transfer Michael Jenkins had three stuffs and nine points in 11 minutes.

“We expected to win,” Kusnyer said. “But our goal was to get better.”

The Bears set a UC record for points and margin of victory with the win.

“These games can become dangerous; you get in a lull,” Kusnyer said. “I thought the intensity stayed pretty constant throughout the whole game.”’

Everybody in uniform played and scored.

It was the expected tuneup for the Bears, who host Florida State at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the highly anticipated homecoming game. The Seminoles are the third big program in three years to visit the University Center.

Mercer had 11 points on the board before Fisk scored.

“We got to play everybody,” Hoffman said. “We have 15 guys on this team that can play.”

Florence’s steal and stuff gave Mercer a 48-17 lead with 3:43 remaining before halftime, setting the Bears up for a 58-22 lead at the break.

By that time, seven Bears had at least five points and five had at least two rebounds.

Mercer was 24-of-41 from the floor to 9-of-30 for Fisk, which was on the bottom end of a 29-11 rebounding margin.

Tevin Swann got the big ovation by getting the Bears to 100 on a free throw with 2:40 left in the game, Mercer up 100-43.

One thing Fisk had was a team full of quick hands. The Bulldogs kept balls alive and seemed to have more than the four blocks they were credited for.

“They were quick,” Hoffman said. “I wish we would have played better defense.”

Mercer’s backups, down to preferred walk-ons Chris Smith of Dublin and David O’Shaughnessey of Stratford, were impressive on both ends of the floor, especially on offense with patient, offensive rebounding and smart passing.

The reserves scored 52 points and had 28 rebounds to 58 and 30 for the starters.

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