Bears Hold Off Spartans to Head to #ASunMBB Finale

Friday, March 08, 2013

MACON, Ga. - Mercer finished strong in the closing minutes to defeat fifth-seeded USC Upstate 72-64 in the semifinals of the 2013 General Shale Atlantic Sun Men's Basketball Championship. The Bears hit a season-high 14 three pointers in the contest.

Mercer improves to 23-10 on the season with a 17 game home winning streak, which is tied for sixth in the country. The Bears are undefeated in Hawkins Arena this season at 15-0.

Mercer's Bud Thomas and Langston Hall combined for 38 points with Thomas registering 20 points tying the game-high.

Hall reached 1,000 career points in the win as he entered the semifinal needing only eight points to reach the career point plateau. He is the fifth A-Sun student-athlete to make the milestone this season and 146th in conference history. Hall added a game-high six assists.

 Atlantic Sun Insider: Thomas Steps Out of the Shadows for Mercer

Thomas secured the game for Mercer with a steal with 37 seconds remaining in the contest and traversed down the court for a lay-up and added a free throw as he was fouled on the break away. The Thomas' three-point play gave Mercer a nine-point advantage - Mercer's largest of the game.

Travis Smith, a Second Team All-Conference member, contributed 16 points with a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc. Daniel Coursey pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.

USC Upstate's Torrey Craig, a First Team All-Conference selection, tied Thomas for the game-high with 20 points. The junior hit five three-pointers in the loss. Ty Greene added 14 points for the Spartans with five rebounds, while Adrian Rodgers tallied 11 points.

The tightly contested semifinal featured 10 ties and 10 lead changes.

The Bears will be making their second appearance in the A-Sun Championship Final in the past four seasons. The No. 1 seed has won the A-Sun Men's Basketball title three times in the last five years. The Bears look to become the first host team to win the A-Sun Championship in 11 years.

With the Spartans loss they fall to 16-17 on the season.

Mercer faces the winner of No. 2 FGCU and No. 3 Stetson on ESPN2, Saturday at noon ET.

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The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, Northern Kentucky University, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.