MACON, Ga. (School Release) - Senior guard Travis Smith scored a game-high 24 points to help will the Mercer men's basketball team to an 82-74 win over USC Upstate in Saturday afternoon Atlantic Sun conference action at Hawkins Arena.
Mercer's win pushed the team's home court winning streak to 10 and sent the squad to 12-8 (5-2 A-Sun) on the season. USC Upstate suffered its first road loss in league play and fell to 9-10 (3-3 A-Sun).
Smith topped 20 points for the third time this year while leading the Bears offensively for the sixth time in the last seven games. He was joined in double-figures by juniors Jakob Gollon and Bud Thomas, who each scored 12 points in the winning effort.
USC Upstate got a combined 42 points from junior Torrey Craig and sophomore Ty Greene, but Mercer was able to partially offset their efforts by winning the battle of bench scoring, 23-14. Senior Chris Smith and junior Monty Brown each added eight points off the bench, while reserve juniors Darious Moten, Kevin Canevari and Anthony White Jr. all reached the scoring column.
USC Upstate built a quick 8-2 lead at the outset and held the upper hand for the first 10 minutes of game time before Thomas scored a baseline layup for a 15-14 Mercer lead. From there, the Spartans would earn two ties before Mercer assumed a 36-29 halftime edge.
The Spartans closed within two early in the second period, but nine unanswered points by the Bears pushed the margin to 12 with 14:58 to play. Seven minutes later, Mercer's lead had swollen to 16 when the Spartans began a methodical 17-9 run to tighten matters at 69-61 with three minutes left.
With less than one minute in regulation, USC Upstate was down six when Langston Hall drove and found junior Daniel Coursey for an and-one layup. After Coursey's crucial three-point play, the Bears sank six-of-six free throws to secure the victory.
Travis Smith scored 15 of his points in the second half and finished the game with seven-of-10 shooting from the floor. He also registered two rebounds and an assist in 32 minutes of work. Thomas and Gollon both added five points and three assists to their 12-point outputs. Hall finished with eight points, six assists, three rebounds and a steal.
As a team, Mercer's 53.3% (24-of-45) field goal shooting marked a season-high and yielded a season-best 82 points. The Bears also reached season bests in free-throws made (29) and attempted (33).
Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman is now one victory short of his 400th as a collegiate men's basketball head coach. He'll go for the milestone as the Bears return to action at Northern Kentucky on January 24.