SPARTANBURG, S.C. (MERCER RELEASE) – The Mercer men's basketball team registered its lowest shooting percentage of the season and saw its eight-game winning streak snapped in an 80-61 loss to USC Upstate at the Hodge Center on Sunday afternoon.
Mercer's first loss since Jan. 1 dropped the team to 18-6 (9-2 A-Sun) while USC Upstate extended its winning streak to four-straight with the win. Senior Anthony White Jr. led Mercer with 12 points in the losing effort.
"They had more energy," Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. "They were hungrier for the win than we were today. That's what happens when you're not ready on the road."
Mercer struggled offensively, shooting just 21-of-60 (35%) from the floor and 5-of-23 from 3-point range while USC Upstate hit 22-of-50 attempts from the field and got 30 points at the free throw line.
White Jr. netted his team-high 12 points on 5-of-14 aim while also collecting four rebounds. USC Upstate senior center Ricardo Glenn notched his fourth-straight double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds while his classmate Torrey Craig tallied a game-high 25 points.
A hostile crowd was kept at bay in the early going as Mercer opened up a 7-2 lead by the first media timeout. The Spartans came out of the break energized and ripped off 15-unanswered points while stoking the home supporters into a fever pitch. During the stretch, Mercer missed five-straight field goals and committed one turnover.
Sophomore Jibri Bryan came off the bench and buried a straightaway three to halt the charge momentarily, but by the 3:05 juncture of the period the USC Upstate lead had grown to 20.
Junior Darious Moten infused some life into the Mercer bench as he scored five points to help Mercer close the half on an 8-2 run to trim the deficit to 14. Out of intermission, the Orange and Black continued the charge with an 11-2 surge to get within nine of the lead (51-42) for the first time in nearly 15 minutes of action.
With under nine to play, Mercer had climbed back to within seven (61-54) before the hosts scored the game's next seven points to retain a comfortable 14-point lead. Mercer would get no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
Moten finished with 10 points and two rebounds while senior Langston Hall booked four points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block.
The win was USC Upstate's first against Mercer since Feb. 26, 2009. Despite the loss, Mercer clinched a spot in the Atlantic Sun Tournament by virtue of East Tennessee State's win over Kennesaw State.
Mercer continues league play at Kennesaw State on Feb. 7. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.