Both Mercer basketball teams prepare for the Southern Conference Tournament

Mercer men's team seeded seventh while the Mercer women's team seeded one.

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — The Mercer men’s basketball team rounded out the regular season with three consecutive losses, falling this weekend to Wofford 67 to 74. But now, the regular season goes out the window as the Bears look forward to the Southern Conference Tournament.

The Bears finished this season with an overall record of 15 wins and 16 losses and an eight and 10 Southern Conference record.

“Wasn’t where we wanted to finish. Obviously, we have expectations to win the conference regular season. But now we’ve got an opportunity to start 0-0 right now. Because we have to win four, it’s really about the first one. Learned a lot about our team, had some ups and downs and had some injuries. Everybody kind of goes through that,” said Greg Gary, Mercer men’s basketball head coach.

College basketball tournament play is like no other. Any team can win on any given day, and that’s just the beauty of the one-and-done format. Senior forward Felipe Haase notes what needs to be done to give his team the best chance of victory.

“In tournament play, you got to bring the energy. You can’t think about the next game because there is no next game if you lose. So you got to take care of the first game with a lot of energy and togetherness and be fully committed on the defensive end. And with that, just take it step-by-step and that’s our biggest focus,” said Haase.

This season, the Bears enter the Southern Conference Tournament as the seven-seed and will need to win four games in total to become the conference champs. Seems tough? Last season, Mercer entered the tournament as the seven-seed and made it all the way to the finals, where they would lose by eight to UNC Greensboro. Coach Gary mentions how last year’s Cinderella run could affect the team this year.

“It should help you just because it’s something you’ve experienced. Usually, you learn from experiences. So last year’s last year. We got to concentrate on the first game. You don’t get by that one; you have no run. So we’ve got to make sure we concentrate on Western Carolina,” said Coach Gary.

The Bears look to begin their title run as they face Western Carolina, who they split the regular-season series with, this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

As for the women’s basketball team, they closed out regular season play this weekend, beating Samford 64 to 55.

The Bears finished the regular season 20 and six, with a 13 and one record in Southern Conference play. Mercer enters the tournament as the one-seed and looks to repeat last year’s championship performance.

The Bears have seven returners from last year’s championship squad on this year’s roster, combined with some standout freshmen and graduate student transfers.

Bears starting guard Amoria Neal-Tysor speaks on how experience has affected the teams’ success this season.

“We do have a lot of experience on the team with our grad students and the people who’s been here for a while, like Shannon and Jaron. I think that’s really helped our freshmen and our newcomers to get in our system and us being able to develop the chemistry we have together. So, chemistry and experience played a big role in our success this year,” said Neal-Tysor.

The Bears began their title defense as they also face Western Carolina in the first round this Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

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