Jake Gollon has had foot problems and surgeries galore since he arrived on Mercer’s campus, and by no stretch is he 100 percent.
For a few days, however, he might be.
“It’s pretty sore,” he admitted. “But it doesn’t hurt as bad as losing.”
Gollon made sure his foot and teammates feel pretty good for a while, his layup off of Jeff Smith’s pass with 11.1 seconds giving Mercer a 73-68 comeback win Friday night over Navy at the University Center.
Mercer improved to 3-7 while Navy fell to 4-8.
“I’ve been waiting for my turn,” he said. “I’ve been here two years and had a couple surgeries and stuff. I’ve hung in there with the help of some good teammates.”
It was tied at 68 with 37 seconds left when freshman guard Langston Hall dribbled around, then Smith had it on the wing and then Mark Hall in the corner before getting it out to Smith. The senior got some separation with a quality crossover dribble, then softly dropped it off to Gollon, who softly laid it over the rim.
“Jeff made a good drive, and my man sunk to the rim to stop him, and I was wide open under the hoop,” Gollon said. “That’s the kind of thing we work on every day in practice.”
Former Mercer head coach Mark Slonaker signed Gollon, and successor Bob Hoffman was hoping the foot problems would go away.
“Jake Gollon, I’m so thrilled was the recipient, to get to finish that game after what he’s been through these three years,” Hoffman said. “It’s fun to see him having success, and getting his first start ever here and getting the chance to make that play.”
O.J. Avworo’s jumper was off, and Smith got the rebound, and soon enough, Mercer’s four-game losing streak was history.
Gollon finished with an efficient eight points and six rebounds in 21 minutes but was a clutch 4-of-5 from the line on a night where Mercer almost did itself in with free-throw futility.
Only a strong finish lifted the Bears above 50 percent, 16-of-30 for 53.3 percent. The Bears entered the game with 68.4-percent accuracy from the line.
“We were over 70 percent before the Nashville trip,” Hoffman said. “We’ll get that back.”
The win capped off a night of celebration. At halftime, Mercer’s baseball team was rewarded for its a-Sun tournament championship and NCAA tournament berth last spring with the presentation of championship rings.
The men are off for exams until hosting Georgia on Dec. 23 and then Charlotte a week later. The Bears then visit Georgia Tech on New Year’s Eve.