Mercer had a tough enough task on Sunday afternoon with a hot-shooting ETSU squad in Hawkins Arena. Problems taking care of the basketball only made matters worse.
The Bears (10-4, 0-1) fell 74-55 in their SoCon opener as they turned the ball over 18 times. Mercer trailed by just six points coming out of halftime, but was unable to keep up as they offense was thrown off and the Buccaneers kept their scoring going to pull away for the victory.
Four who mattered
Desmond Ringer: He led Mercer in the paint through more ways than one, pulling down 12 rebounds and scoring 10 points.
Ria’n Holland: His 12 points led the Bears on Sunday.
Jalan McCloud: There wasn’t much that Mercer could do to stop ETSU’s guard. He scored 22 points and drained four 3 pointers.
Bo Hodges: He came off the bench and gave Mercer fits on the way to scoring 12 points.
Down 32-23 with 3:42 left in the first half following a 10-0 ETSU run, Mercer put itself in position to rally after a pair of Jaylen Stowe layups and two Demetre Rivers cut the lead to 36-30. The Bears, however, weren’t able to cut into that deficit in the second half, enabling ETSU to pad its lead.
Hot shooters: Plainly put, the Buccaneers shot the ball extremely well from the start on Sunday and didn’t relent. As a team, they shot 57 percent from the field and 56 percent from behind the 3-point line. With shooting like that, even with many of the shots being contested, there was little that the Bears could do to stop it.
Big run: The game was a classic back and forth fight for the first 15 minutes or so. That changed when the Bears were outscored 13-3 for a stretch of 3:13.
ETSU stays hot
The Bucs, considered a strong favorite to win the conference, improved to 10-4 overall and 1-0 in the SoCon with the win. They have now won eight of nine games, the only loss being by two points to No. 6 Xavier.
They said it
Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman on the key factors in the loss: “We weren’t able to finish those plays in the first half. Up to then, we were playing good and it kind of snowballed from there. It was almost like we were in shock and I couldn’t get them out of shock mode. We couldn’t score. The thing I took away from the game that I told our guys is that we’ve got to fight harder and fight longer. We’ve got to play more together than we were (Sunday).”
Hoffman on Mercer’s turnovers: “They were running through passing lanes, the game was really physical. We are kind of finesse team, and we’ll have to be more tough minded than we were.”
Hoffman on the loss: “In a season, there’s going to be a lot of bumps and bruises. This was not a fun one to deal with. I apologize to all the fans that came out. We had a real good crowd that came out, and I apologize for (the loss). We’ll do better.”
Mercer forward Desmond Ringer on the turnovers: “We just turned it over entirely too much. That’s the game. Our shot selection, we took some bad shots to kind of give them some easy baskets. That was the game, right there.”
Mercer travels to Furman on Saturday