Mercer Bears down UNCW in final home game of 2019

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WILMINGTON, N.C. (UNCW release) - Mercer went on a 13-2 run over the first 3:49 of the second half behind a trio of three-pointers and went on to post a 72-63 victory over UNCW in men’s basketball action Monday night at Trask Coliseum.

The Bears, playing in Trask Coliseum for the first time in 42 years, halted a four-losing streak to improve to 5-6 after leading by as many as 14 points early in the second half and holding off the Seahawks down the stretch. UNCW dipped to 5-7 after playing its final home game before the Christmas break.

“It was obviously a hard fought, physical ball game,” said C.B. McGrath, UNCW’s third-year head coach. “We did a decent job of attacking the basket, but not enough of them fell in. We did a nice job of fighting back, but just ran out of time.”

Senior guard Djordje Dimitrijevic of Mercer led all scorers with 23 points, including 4-of-9 behind the arc and two triples in the spurt at the beginning of the second period. Redshirt senior guard Ethan Stair recorded his eighth career double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds and redshirt sophomore guard Jeff Gary chipped in 10 points.

Sophomore guard Jaylen Sims paced the Seahawks with 17 points and shot 57.1 percent (4-for-7) from deep. The Charlotte, N.C. native was joined in double figures by redshirt sophomore forward Marten Linssen (13) and freshman guard Shykeim Phillips (11).

UNCW connected on its first four field goal attempts to open the game, but could not keep pace with Mercer’s long-range attack. The Bears drained six three-pointers in the first half to take a 37-35 lead into the break and hit 11-for-32 on the night.

With the game knotted at 37-all early in the final period, Mercer reeled off 13 unanswered points and led, 50-37, after Gary connected on a runner on the right elbow at 16:02.

The margin swelled to 58-44 with 12:02 left when Stair converted an uncontested layup before the Seahawks sliced the deficit with a 12-2 spurt midway through period. Linssen capped the rally with a slam at 7:16 to bring the Seahawks within 60-56.

Mercer then closed out the win over the final seven minutes as both teams struggled offensively, combining for two field goals over the last 5:24 of the contest.

The Seahawks next travel to Nashville to wrap up the non-conference portion of the schedule against Southeastern Conference opponent Vanderbilt. Tip-off is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 21, at 8 p.m. CT at historic Memorial Gymnasium.

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