BOCA RATON, Fla. –
A sluggish start by Mercer overshadowed a 45-point second-half effort as the Bears fell to Florida Atlantic, 68-64, on the road at FAU Arena on Wednesday night.
Mercer (4-5) outscored FAU (7-2) 45-39 in the second half – was led by 13 second-half points by Ethan Stair
– but entered the halftime break with a 10-point deficit (29-19) after shooting only 29 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes of play.
Trailing by 12 (55-43) with 6:31 left on the clock, Mercer went on a 16-5 run over the following five minutes to cut the Owls' lead to one point, 60-59, at the 1:21 mark. The Bears were highly efficient from the free throw line during the run, connecting on all eight attempts from the charity stripe. Stair, who was 5-of-10 from the field on the night, tallied consecutive steals and fast-break layups during the run as well.
A critical three-pointer by FAU's Jailyn Ingram with 41 seconds remaining pushed the Owls' lead back to four points, however, keeping the Bears out of reach. Cory Kilby
hit a pair of free throws and Stair drained one of his two made three-pointers with 10 seconds left before FAU sealed the win with two free throws of its own with seven seconds on the clock.
Early shooting woes by the Bears resulted in the 10-point halftime deficit. Mercer shot 8-of-27 from the field in the first half despite a strong individual performance from Jaylen Stowe
, who entered the locker room with 4-of-5 shooting and five rebounds at halftime. The Owls jumped out to a 10-2 advantage by the 14-minute mark and ended the first half on a 6-2 run.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
scored all 13 of his points in the second half and added three rebounds and a career-high five steals to lead the Bears. The redshirt junior was 5-of-7 from the field in the second half, nailing Mercer's only pair of three-pointers in the game.
» Ethan Stair's
13 points are a season-high. He has scored double-figures in five games this season.
» Jaylen Stowe
scored a career-high 16 points, the most among the Bears. He added a team-best eight rebounds.
Mercer outscored FAU 38-24 in the paint and off of turnovers, 22-21.
The Bears hit 20-of-23 free throw attempts. Cory Kilby
was 8-of-9 individually.
Mercer fell to 10-11 all-time against FAU.
» Djordje Dimitrijevic
tallied 12 points and five rebounds. He has scored double-figures in seven of nine games as a Bear.
Coach Bob Hoffman –
"We challenged FAU in the second half and played hard toward the end, but we struggled to make shots and had a really poor first half. We can't do what we're doing against good teams on the road. Our ability to battle back in the second half was great – these kids want to win and I know they'll battle every day. I don't mince words and I told the guys how I felt about that first half. It hurt our chances tonight.
"I was really impressed by Ethan Stair's
effort…he's an amazing player. He's hurt, but he's out there playing no matter what and I love him for that."
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