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The Bear Breakdown: Everything you need to know going into Thanksgiving break

<p>Luis Hurtado Jr. (#11) looks for someone to pass to in the game against Winthrop University. Hurtado completed his first career double-double in the game with 10 assists and 10 points. Davis Craig (#23) also completed his first career double-double with 10 rebounds and 10 points. Photo provided by Mercer Athletics. </p>

Luis Hurtado Jr. (#11) looks for someone to pass to in the game against Winthrop University. Hurtado completed his first career double-double in the game with 10 assists and 10 points. Davis Craig (#23) also completed his first career double-double with 10 rebounds and 10 points. Photo provided by Mercer Athletics.


The Bear’s season ended after a 50-44 double overtime loss to Samford on Nov.19. Samford is the #9 ranked team in the FCS coaches poll and now have a record of 10-1, their only loss being to the No. 1 ranked team in college football: the  University of Georgia. 

In the first quarter, the Bears and Bulldogs went back and forth on the scoreboard with Ty James opening the game up with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Fred Payton. The game was stuck at a tie until Samford kicker, Zach Williams, nailed a 33-yard field goal with 0:00 left on the clock. The Bears went into halftime down 20-17, still an impressive half when comparing Samford’s season to Mercer’s. 

Devon Folser opened the second half with a 22-yard field goal to tie the game again 20-20. Throughout the third and fourth quarter, the teams swapped scoring runs again until the clock wound down and the game remained tied 37-37 sending them into overtime.

Samford scored first in overtime when quarterback, Michael Heirs, threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver, Judd Cockett. Al Wooten answered for the Bears with a 19-yard run into the endzone sending the game into double overtime. The Bears tried to kick a field goal that was blocked by the Bulldogs and the pressure was on the defense to stop Samford from scoring. Sealing a tough end of the season for the Bears, Samford’s backup quarterback took a 25-yard run into the endzone, walking off with the win. 

The Bears finished their regular season 7-4 and held their conference record at 5-3. They did not receive an at-large bid to the 2022 FCS playoffs.  

Men’s Basketball

The Bears have gone 2-1 in their last three games. The team set a new program record for points scored in a single game when they beat Milligan College 118-64 on Nov. 11. Shawn Walker Jr. hadthe highest individual score at 23 points while Jalyn McCreary and Michael Zanoni scored 22 and 21 points, respectively. McCready led the team in rebounds with a total of nine, five offensively and four defensively. 

On Nov. 15, the Bears lost to Georgia State University 85-83 after going into overtime. In the first half, there were 16 lead changes between the teams, meaning no one could really take control. In the second half, the Panthers tightened up and managed to take control, but the point difference still remained in the single digits. At the end of regulation time, the score was tied 77-77. In the beginning of the extra five minutes, Mercer was down by four, and, although they quickly caught up, but they ultimately lost by just two points. 

Mercer bounced back on Nov. 19 with a 77-68 win over Winthrop University. David Craig and Luis Hurtado Jr. were the highlight players of the game as they both double-doubled against the Eagles. Craig had 10 rebounds and 10 points while Hurtado Jr. had  10 assists and 10 points. 

In the game against Florida State University the Bears fell 81-72 on Nov. 21. Jalyn McCreary had 20 points and six rebounds and Kamar Robertson had 15 points with three assists. The team now stands at a 3-3 overall record and will travel to Savannah on Nov. 25 to play Robert Morris University.

Men’s Cross Country

On Friday, the Bears raced at the NCAA South Region Championship meet where they finished 18th of 22 teams, beating out heavyweights University of Florida and Troy. The team, who ran a 10k race, was led by graduate student standout Vladimir Zelander-Velloso. His time was an impressive 31 minutes flat, good to place no. 44 overall among a crowded field. 

Men’s Soccer

On Saturday, the Bears faced off against UNC Greensboro in the SoCon Championship final. Unfortunately, they were bested by their opponent 2-1. Mercer opened up the scoring with a 27th minute solo goal from Kadeem Agard ‘25. The Bears would be tied later on in the first half from a Trojan goal from the penalty spot, then would fall behind late in the second half. Trevor McMullen ‘24 had eight saves throughout the game. This was the second year in a row in which the Bears made it to the championship game.

Women’s Basketball

After their games against the University of Central Florida and Bethune-Cookman University got canceled by hurricane Ian, the Bears lost to Wake Forest 70-45 on Nov. 17. 

Jaron Dougherty had 13 points and seven rebounds while Amoria Neal-Tysor had 13 points and five rebounds. Dougherty and Neal-Tysor fought to keep the team alive, but the Demon Deacons still came out on top.

The Bears redeemed themselves with a big 72-37 win over Georgia Southwestern State University on Sunday, November 20. Brittany Reeves had her first career double-double in the game with 11 rebounds and 15 points. 

The Bears now stand at a 2-1 record and will travel to Las Vegas, Nevada to take on Colorado State University on Nov. 25 and Texas Tech University on Saturday, November 26. 

Women’s Cross Country 

At the NCAA South Region Championship, Mercer had placed 29 out of 32 teams. The 6k race was held in Huntsville, Alabama. The team was led by Laney Doster ‘25, who had a time of 22:27 that put her at no. 137 overall. According to Mercer Athletics, Leah Pfaff ‘26 set a freshman record at the 6k race with a time of 22:45. The team will look forward to next year now that they have more experience.

Gabriel Kopp

Gabriel Kopp '26 is majoring in Journalism and Law and Public Policy at Mercer University. He has written for The Cluster since he started at Mercer, and currently works as the Sports Editor. When he isn't studying, he enjoys going for runs and reading the New York Times.

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