Spartans Stumble on Road at Mercer, 61-47
MACON, Ga. – After taking an early 6-2 lead, the USC Upstate men's basketball team (14-10, 7-4 Atlantic Sun) found itself in a 21-point hole to Mercer (18-7, 10-2) as the Bears closed the half on a 30-5 run over the final 14:09 of the half Saturday afternoon inside the University Center.
"Today's game was a good example of a team still trying to come together and establish itself," said head coach Eddie Payne. "We are not where we need to be and that was evident by our play in the first half. We have a lot of work to do to get where we want to be."
Trailing 2-0 early, Upstate's Jodd Maxey (Statham, Ga.) scored back-to-back baskets to put the Spartans in front, 4-2, with 17:28 to play in the first half. Ricardo Glenn (Augusta, Ga.) pushed the Spartan lead to four with a lay-up with just under 17 minutes to play in the half.
Following Glenn's lay-up, the Spartans suffered a drought of 7:19 as Mercer used a 16-0 run to take a 18-6 lead with 10 minutes remaining. Glenn halted the Mercer run with a lay-up with 9:30 to play in the half.
The Spartans managed just three points the remainder of the half as the squad ran into a pair of four minute droughts. While the Spartan offense sputtered, the Bears seized control and took a 32-11 lead into the locker room at the break.
After Langston Hall hit a triple to give Mercer a 19-point advantage (37-18) with 15:59 to play, the Spartans began to chip away at the Bear lead.
Glenn connected on three lay-up attempts and hit a free throw, while Carter Cook (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and Ty Greene (Knoxville, Tenn.) sank jumpers and the Spartans found themselves down just 10 points (38-28) with 10:09 showing on the clock.
Despite hitting just three baskets over the final 9:49 of the contest, the Bears were able to claim the 14 point win by hitting 18 of their final 22 free throw attempts.
Glenn and Torrey Craig (Great Falls, S.C.) paced the Spartans with 13 points each. Meanwhile, Mercer was led by Langtson Hall (13 points) and Jakob Gollon (10).
The Spartans will wrap-up a two-game road swing through the state of Georgia with a 7 p.m. contest Monday night at Kennesaw State. The game against the Owls will be broadcast on ESPN3.com with Matt Stewart and Sonny Smith calling the action from Kennesaw, Ga.