Mercer Tops UTC Cagers, 63-53

Sunday, December 16, 2012 - by B.B. Branton

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- Prior to Mercer’s 63-53 win against The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga,  Sunday at McKenzie Arena, the Bears were shooting 33% from 3-point range.

The visitors upped that to 46.7% (7 of 15) in the first half against the Mocs, led 33-22 at halftime and were never headed in the final 20 minutes to improve to 6-5 on the season.

The Bears main outside weapon Langston Hall, a 6-4 junior guard, who was 5-9 from beyond the arc and had a game-high 19 points.

But he wasn’t alone in connecting from 3-point land as Jibri Bryan earned all his nine points from long range (3-of-5), while three other Bear had one, 3-pointer each.

“Langston is a special player at point guard and I am thankful I get to coach him every day,” said Mercer coach Bob Hoffman.

While Hall had the most points, Bryan did the most damage to the Mocs defense, connecting on three straight treys – his first three shots of the game –  in a six minute, 19-0 Mercer run (for a 24-10 lead at 9:24) which wiped out a Mocs 10-5 lead.

 UTC (2-8) held the five point lead at 16:48 on a Z Mason layup, but then went cold for 8:32– 11 missed shots and two turnovers  – before Gee McGhee’s jumper made it 24-12 in favor of the Bears.

“We played great D (defense) during that 19-0 run and on offense were able to make that extra pass to get the open looks,” Hoffman stated.

McGhee’s jumper, kick-started a 7-0 Mocs run to make it 24-17 at 5:53 before intermission, but Hall countered with a jumper and a 3-pointer to make it 31-18 at 2:28 before McGhee added two baskets late as the Mocs trailed by 11 at halftime.

The Blue and Gold made two more runs in the second half, cutting a 16-point Mercer lead (41-25) to six (41-35) at 12:52 thanks to Alex Bran’s eight points in six minutes off the bench and cutting a Mercer 14-point lead (53-39 at 8:26) to six (59-53 at 1:37) on a pair of Ronrico White free throws, but could get no closer.

“Give Mercer credit, they shot the ball real well, ” said UTC coach John Shulman. “They won 27 games last year and lost one player. Overall, we looked like a young team trying to find ourselves but we worked hard.”

“We basically did nothing right today (shot 33.3% from the field, 26;9% from –point range and 62.5% from the free throw line), but battled back and found ourselves down by six in the last two minutes with the ball to a team who beat Florida State on the road.”

Shullman pointed to Bran and Martynas Bareika’s efforts off the bench.

“Alex gave us a great spark and Martynas worked his tail off (7 points, 3 assists, 1 steal),” Shulman stated.

Mason led the Mocs with 13 points and eight rebounds, while McGhee scored 12.

“We battled out there today but we have to get better on the glass (Mercer led 38-33 in rebounds),” Shulman stated.

“I don’t see a lot of quit out there (from his players) and if you are frustrated then that means you care.”

Next Game: The Mocs have a chance to do something about that frustration Friday in a noon home game with Reinhart University (Waleska, Ga.). The Eagles (5-5) have won four straight entering Wednesday’s game with Southern Poly State and have split a pair of games with Tennessee Temple who the Mocs beat 88-53 in the season opener.

Series Record: UTC leads Reinhart, 1-0, defeating the Eagles, 107-48, two years ago, Dec. 21, 2010.


contact B.B. Branton at

MERCER (6-5)
HALL, Langston 6-12 2-2 19; SMITH, Travis 2-8 6-8 10; BRYAN, Jibri 3-6 0-0
9; THOMAS, Bud 4-9 0-0 8; HALLICE, T.J. 3-4 0-0 7; GOLLON, Jakob 1-2 2-2 5;
WHITE, Anthony Jr. 1-3 0-0 3; COURSEY, Daniel 1-5 0-0 2; BROWN, Monty 0-2
0-0 0; SMITH, Chris 0-0 0-0 0; MOTEN, Darious 0-1 0-0 0; CANEVARI, Kevin 0-0
0-0 0. Totals 21-52 10-12 63.

MASON, Z. 5-10 2-4 13; McGHEE, Gee 5-11 0-3 12; BRAN, Alex 2-3 2-2 8; WHITE,
Ronrico 1-12 4-4 7; WATSON, Sam 2-3 0-0 4; ZLOVARIC, Drazen 2-2 0-0 4;
BAREIKA, Martynas 1-4 0-0 3; BRYANT, Jared 0-0 2-3 2; JONES, Casey 0-2 0-0
0; COBB, Farad 0-4 0-0 0; ROBERTSON, Eric 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 18-54 10-16 53.
Mercer........................   33   30  -   63
Chattanooga...................   22   31  -   53
3-point goals--Mercer 11-29 (HALL, Langston 5-9; BRYAN, Jibri 3-5; HALLICE,
T.J. 1-2; GOLLON, Jakob 1-2; WHITE, Anthony Jr. 1-2; MOTEN, Darious 0-1;
THOMAS, Bud 0-4; SMITH, Travis 0-4), Chattanooga 7-26 (McGHEE, Gee 2-6;
BRAN, Alex 2-2; MASON, Z. 1-3; WHITE, Ronrico 1-7; BAREIKA, Martynas 1-3;
COBB, Farad 0-4; ROBERTSON, Eric 0-1). Fouled out--Mercer-None,
Chattanooga-None. Rebounds--Mercer 38 (BROWN, Monty 8), Chattanooga 33
(MASON, Z. 8). Assists--Mercer 13 (THOMAS, Bud 5), Chattanooga 14 (WHITE,
Ronrico 5). Total fouls--Mercer 17, Chattanooga 13. Technical
fouls--Mercer-None, Chattanooga-None. A-2408


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