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Friday, Jun 2, 2023
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Bears come up a basket short in road loss to Western Carolina

Senior forward Stephon Jelks looks for an open teammate to pass the ball to.
Senior forward Stephon Jelks looks for an open teammate to pass the ball to.

The Mercer Bears (7-9, 0-3) could not buy a basket in a close 58-56 road loss to SoCon rival Western Carolina (7-9, 3-1), 01/10.

Stingy defense allowed the Bears to hang around until the very end. It was lack of offensive execution down the stretch that doomed the Bears, scoring just 10 points over the final 7 minutes of the game.

Across the board, it was a rough shooting night for the Bears. They posted their worst performance of the season from the field at just 35.3 percent, and were unable to convert much from beyond the arc, hitting on just 5-of-21 attempts.

The Bears fought hard the entire game. When a team struggles to shoot like the Bears did, it can be easy to throw in the towel and  blown out.

That’s not what happened Wednesday night. The entire game was a nail biter, and the Bears hung with the Catamounts until the final seconds.

Western Carolina’s largest lead of the game was just four points. When you consider that the final score had the Bears down by just 2 points, that attests to the Bears grit from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

Performances like this one should not come around all too often. The Bears typically shoot the ball much better, and will need to in order to get back in the race for a Southern Conference crown, and potential NCAA tournament berth in March.

If the Bears can find a way to combine the stingy, team defense that they played against Western Carolina with their usual offensive prowess, they will be a dangerous team as the season goes on.

The Bears have the makings of a team that can compete come tournament time. They have a dynamic scorer in Holland, a good post presence in Ringer, as well as good three point shooting and strong defense.

The challenge the Bears face is putting all of those attributes together, night after night, game after game. They have done it several times this year in some of their bigger games this season, but will need to find consistency in order to correct the course of the season.

This loss stings for the Bears as it drops them 0-3 in Southern Conference play. In the preseason, the Bears were predicted to win the conference.


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