'Mercer came out and they were obviously very ready,' said head coach Derek Waugh. 'I don't we were on the top of our game and I think we forced some shots early.'
Garfield Blair scored in double figures for the 12th straight game for Stetson. The sophomore from Orlando, Fla. had 10 at halftime and finished with 12. Gabe McMillen put in 10 points and dished out four assists. Kris Thomas and Brandon Williams each hit three three-pointers for the Hatters.
The Hatters took an early 10-6 lead before Mercer hit a groove. The Bears out-scored Stetson 21-3 from the 16:06 mark until 8:39 remaining when Blair fought his way into the lane. However, Mercer's James Florence hit nine of 10 free throw attempts and scored 15 first half points to put the Bears ahead 45-29 at intermission. Florence finished with a game-high 24 points.
Stetson broke out of halftime with eight unanswered points key by a Thomas three-pointer. Then Blair picked off a pass and went to the basket for lay-up. Thomas followed with another three off a subsequent Mercer turnover to pull Stetson with 45-37. But the Bears responded with an 8-0 run of their own to regain a 16-point advantage.
The closest Stetson would get the rest of the way came when A.J. Smith's reverse lay-up in traffic closed the deficit to 10 points, 63-53. A McMillen three-pointer also brought the Hatters within 10 at the 6:52 mark. Mercer began to pull away when Ross Alacqua canned an open three-pointer to put the Bears ahead 73-58 with 4:43 to go. Shaddean Aaron topped the Bears with 15 second-half points and ended up with 22. Mercer shot 53.4% for the game, compared to 32.3% for the Hatters.
Stetson falls to 5-9 overall (1-2 in the A-Sun) while Mercer improves to 6-7 (2-1). The Hatters continue road play in the A-Sun with a 2:00 pm tip-off at Lipscomb Sunday afternoon.