Saturday, February 19, 2011
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mercer University’s men’s basketball team kept rolling along with its fifth-straight victory, a 78-75 decision at the University of North Florida. The win improved the Bears to 13-15 overall and 10-7 in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
While MU knew entering the game it had already clinched its 27th-consecutive berth in the A-Sun championship tournament – hosted by Mercer on March 2-5 at the University Center – it is still looking at a chance to ascend the standings. The Bears entered the game versus UNF in fifth place, one game out of fourth.
Taking down the Ospreys, however, proved to be no easy task. UNF, which had topped Mercer in Macon (74-64) just a couple weeks ago, was ready for the Bears in their own arena. The Ospreys enjoyed a nine point lead in the first half and MU an eight point advantage in the opening stanza, as well.
The teams ended tied at 33-33 at the intermission. In the second half, neither squad led by more than five points at any time. The Bears – already depleted by injury – had three guards (Bud Thomas, Mark Hall and Chris Smith) all foul out down the stretch.
But senior Brian Mills – as he has done so often of late – put the team on his back early and often versus UNF. Mills had a career-high 34 points by hitting 11-of-22 from the floor and 12-of-14 free throws, scoring the Bears’ first seven points of the game. It was Mills’ 23rd double-figure scoring game and his ninth with 20-plus points.
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