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Mercer Holds Off Paladins, 74-68

Kris Acox
Kris Acox

Greenville, S.C. -- Mercer's Darious Moten and Ike Nwamu scored 19 points apiece to help the Bears hold off Furman, 74-68, in Southern Conference men's basketball action on Saturday afternoon at Timmons Arena.

The loss dropped the Paladins to 7-16 overall and 4-8 in SoCon play, while Mercer improved to 14-11 overall and 9-3 in the league by completing the regular season sweep of Furman.

The Paladins held a 36-31 lead at intermission, but the Bears shot 50% from the floor in the second half and converted on 16-of-25 free throw attempts over the final 20 minutes to rally.  After Furman extended its lead to 38-31 in the opening moments of the second period, T.J. Hallice netted five points as part of a 14-5 run that gave the Bears a 45-43 lead when the forward converted the second free throw of a two-shot foul with 14:24 remaining.

Furman kept the margin in single digits down the stretch and trimmed a nine-point deficit back to just four points with under two minutes to go, but Moten's breakaway jam with 22 seconds left and Jibri Bryan's pair of free throws on the following possession put the game out of reach.

Moten hit 7-of-13 shots from the floor and Nwamu connected on 4-of-8 three-point tries to pace the Bears.  Hallice notched a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Bryan added 10 points.  

Kris Acox posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead Furman.  The sophomore made all six of his field goal attempts and converted on his only trip to the line.  Freshman Daniel Fowler matched his career-high with 13 points and Stephen Croone reached double figures again with 10 points.

The lead changed hands four times in the opening period before a Geoff Beans trey ignited a 12-2 Furman run that helped the Paladins to a 25-15 lead on Devin Sibley's layup with 6:38 to play before the half.  Furman upped the margin to 11 points before Mercer closed the half on a 13-7 spurt to cut the deficit to five points.

The Paladins compiled a 34-31 edge on the glass, but Mercer managed a 17-8 edge on second chance points on the strength of 13 offensive boards.  The Bears scored 17 points off of 12 Furman turnovers and finished with 20 assists and nine steals.  Both teams shot 48.1% for the game.

Furman returns to the road on Thursday night when it travels to Lexington, Va., to face VMI at 7 p.m.  The Paladins then travel to Johnson City, Tenn., next Saturday to battle ETSU.

Both games can be heard live on the Furman IMG Sports Network on flagship station WGOG 96.3 FM and Fox Sports 1440 AM with play-by-play voice Dan Scott.  The audio broadcast will be available by logging onto TuneIn.com.  Links for the broadcast and live statistics will be available at FurmanPaladins.com.


Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information