Mercer men’s basketball continued their impressive home form by beating the Western Carolina Catamounts 72-64 Saturday.
Despite injuries to key players, the Bears have been resilient. They have recorded four straight home wins and five wins total in their last seven games.
Mercer now sits in third place in the Southern Conference with a record of 12-8 overall and 5-2 in conference play. Only Chattanooga and Furman have better records currently.
The Catamounts, who played better than their 2-5 conference record would suggest, kept the contest close throughout, even establishing small leads at points in the second half. However, the Bears simply had too many weapons to choose from. Whether it was Felipe Haase’s silky smooth jumper or Jalen Johnson’s two-way threat, Mercer ultimately outlasted WCU.
Johnson scored a team-high 18 points on 7-14 field goals. He also recorded six rebounds, three assists and a block. Haase had 13 points on 5-8 from the field and 3-6 from three-point territory. Six rebounds, three assists and two steals were also major contributions from the forward.
A special mention must go to guard Jordan Jones, who excelled in the absence of Neftali Alvarez. Jones shot excellently from the field including going 6-11 from the floor and 4-7 from three-point land. The freshman guard controlled the pace of the game superbly, dishing out four assists to his teammates and adding a steal to his box score.
However, the game was not completely rosy in its outcome. Starting guard Shawn Walker Jr. walked off the court in the second half in significant discomfort holding his shoulder. The Bears will hope that the injury is not as serious as it appeared, as the junior is a valuable member of the roster due to his excellent all-around skillset.
Looking ahead, Mercer will try to build on their current momentum. Their next game sees the team face the lowly Samford Bulldogs, who sit bottom of the conference with a record of 1-6 in conference play.
The game will tip off at 8 p.m at the Pete Hanna Center Jan. 26th.