Stetson went into the second half with a seemingly comfortable 15-point lead and held as much as a 19-point advantage in the first half. But the switch after halftime came quickly. A 12-2 Mercer spurt over the first 4:15 brought the Bears within 45-40. Mercer then took their first lead since scoring the game’s first points on a Shaddean Aaron lay-up at 10:51 to put the Bears ahead 49-48.
Stetson rebuilt the lead to five on a Garfield Blair lay-up with 7:54 remaining to make it 56-51. Blair finished with a team-high and career-high 21 points, making him the first Hatter to break 20 since Gabe McMillen on November 10. Blair shot 10-for-15 from the floor and also matched his career best with nine rebounds.
Mercer out-scored Stetson 27-10 the rest of the way.
Gabe McMillen was the only other Hatter in double figures. He scored 14 points and dished out five assists. Freshman Mark Lohuis scored a career-high eight points and Tim Lang also added eight.
The Hatters shot 41.3% from the field, but just 35.5% after halftime, including 2-for-15 from beyond the arc. Mercer bounced back from a 27% first half to scorch the nets at a 56% clip in the second half, including 10-for-15 three-point shooting.
Stetson opened the night on fire. The Hatters built a 20-7 lead six-and-half minutes into the contest. McMillen and Blair combined for 14 of those points. The offense seemed to be flowing well, as Stetson dished out assists on eight of their first nine field goals.
After Mercer cut the lead to eight, Stetson reeled off a 14-3 run. Kris Thomas’s lay-up made it 34-15 with 3:21 to play in the first half.
The Hatters have the weekend off before hosting