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Monday, Apr 15, 2024
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Bears get back on track in 82-64 rout of Florida A&M  

Holland missed Saturday’s contest against UNCG, a 70-66 loss in overtime, after suffering the wrist injury two days before that game. The Bears are 1-3 in games without Holland this season.
Holland missed Saturday’s contest against UNCG, a 70-66 loss in overtime, after suffering the wrist injury two days before that game. The Bears are 1-3 in games without Holland this season.

It was gut check time for the Mercer Bears.

Mercer came in riding a two-game skid, and fresh off a heartbreaking double-overtime loss against the Memphis Tigers. How would they respond against the Rattlers of Florida A&M?

At the break, the Bears led in virtually every statistical category, including field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, forced turnovers, rebounds, bench points, and points in the paint. Pretty good for a day’s work.

The Bears were in control of the lead for over 75 percent of the first half. They rode a barrage of nine first half 3-pointers, including four from guard Ria’n Holland, to go into halftime up 47 to 31.

The Bears were able to weather a quick second half start by the Rattlers, and take a 23 point lead halfway through the second half.

It was more of the same down the stretch for the Bears. The Bears led the game for 35 out of 40 minutes, and grabbed their largest lead of 27 points with just 5:39 to play. Mercer put their reserves to finish out the game and by the final buzzer, Mercer had coasted to an 82 to 64 victory.



Ria’n Holland: In his return from injury, leading scorer Ria’n Holland did not miss a beat. He scored 14 first half points, including 4-4 from beyond the arc. Holland did not stop there. He went on to put together 24 points, with six total three pointers at the end of the game. What a return for the senior guard.

Stephon Jelks: The senior forward did a little bit of everything Saturday afternoon. Jelks scored 12 points, grabbed 10 boards, and assisted on 7 of the Bears’ shots. He led the Bears in assists and rebounds in the game.



Beyond the Arc: The Bears were on fire from beyond the arc, knocking down an all time school record 14 three pointers in Saturday’s game. The Rattlers weren't far behind. They put home of 12-of-23 from deep, good for 52 percent. The game’s first 24 points were scored from the three point line, as well.

Owning the Boards: The Bears dominated the glass, out- rebounding the Rattlers by 15 total boards, 37 to 22. On the defensive backboard, the Bears outmatched the Rattlers 26 to 16. On the offensive glass, the Bears also had the advantage, 11 to 6.

Sharing is Caring: “We got into the lane and we found each other”, said coach Bob Hoffman. The Mercer Bears were playing unselfish basketball the entire game. They assisted on 17 baskets, some of which lead to some open three pointers early on. So far this season, the Bears are undefeated when they out-assist their opponents.



The Return of Holland: The Bears have looked like a different team the past three weeks. In part because of the absence of leading scorer and senior leader Ria’n Holland. He returned in tonight’s game and the impact was felt early and often. The guard did not miss a beat, and finished as the game’s leading scorer, picking up right where he left off. In his absence, the team went 1-2, including a two-game skid coming into Saturday.

Start to Finish: The Bears trailed in Saturday’s game for just 1 minute and 55 seconds out of 40 total minutes, and were tied for just 2 minutes and 50 seconds. That amounts to the Bears being in the lead for 35 minutes and 15 seconds, good for 87 percent of the total game.



Hoffman on his team’s effort:I love how our guys competed tonight against a really athletic team that fought for the full 40 minutes tonight.”

Hoffman on Holland’s return to action: “It was great to have Ria'n back. He was feeling it from the very beginning and he helped us get some separation. I think Ria'n being out for a few games really stretched our team and it will help us in the long run.”

Jelks on getting back on track: “It gives us our momentum and confidence back. We lost to Tennessee and Memphis, two really good teams. It just felt good to come back and get a win at home with a really good crowd.”

Holland on return: “It felt really good to be back out on the court. I sat on the sidelines for three games, and it was killing me not being able to be out there battling and fighting with my team.”



On December 17, the Mercer Bears will travel to Pennsylvania to do battle with the La Salle Explorers. Tip is off set for 4:30 p.m. on ESPN3. The last time these two teams matched up was last year when the Explorers came to Macon and handed the Bears a heartbreaking 96 to 98 triple-overtime loss. The Bears will look to return the favor in Philadelphia.


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