According to an old country song “sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.”
The Mercer Bears came close to getting the Lipscomb Bisons Saturday night at Allen Arena. But after a rough start the Bisons prevailed 77-65 to open Atlantic Sun Conference play and defense of their conference regular season championship.
Coach Scott Sanderson had few good things to say about his team’s effort.
“I didn’t like our energy level from the beginning of the game,” Sanderson said. “We pick and choose when we play and when you do that you are going to get beat.
“I was not pleased with our effort or execution or anything. We weren’t very good on either end of the floor. I thought we took a step backwards.”
Based on how his team prepared for the game Sanderson was not surprised at how the Bisons played. Sanderson shared the blame with his four seniors, Adnan Hodzic, Josh Slater, Michael Teller and Brandon Brown.
“How we played was exactly how we practiced last week,” Sanderson said. “That falls on the shoulders of our four seniors. We have to do a better job there.
“I’ve got to do a better job of getting them ready. I did a poor job. We all did a poor job.”
Hodzic scored a game-high 28 points, hitting 10-of-12 from the field. Sanderson stressed that Hodzic’s teammates have to do a better job of timing when to get him the ball down low.
“We tried to go inside to Adnan too quick instead of getting the ball moving from side-to-side,” Sanderson said. “He only got 12 shots, but it is hard to get 12 shots when you have three guys draped all over you.
“We have to do a better job of getting him the ball off of the third, fourth or fifth pass than the first pass. It is easier to double up on a player on the first pass.”
Slater added 21. Slater also led the Bisons in rebounding with eight.
Brian Mills had a game-high 12 boards for Mercer which held a slight 38-37.
Mercer took advantage of seven 3-pointers to drive their offense in the first half.
“Mercer jumped up and made some shots which they had to do,” Sanderson said. “Mercer played very, very well. I don’t want to take anything away from them at all. They gave us all we wanted.”
The Bisons trailed 27-19 in the first half with 5:53 left. They held Mercer to one point the rest of the way to tie the game at 28-28 at intermission.
“The last seven minutes of the first half we decided to guard,” Sanderson said. “And then we guarded in spurts in the second half.
Mercer quickly took the lead again in the second half, leading by seven with 17:14 left in the game.
With 9:35 on the clock the Bisons edged ahead 50-49 on a 3-pointer by Jordan Burgason. They never trailed again in the game. With 1:41 left the Bisons stretched their lead to double figures on a layup by Josh Slater made it 70-59.
The Bisons are 4-2 overall, 1-0 in the A-Sun. Mercer falls to 2-7, 0-2 in the conference.
Tuesday night the Bisons travel to Clarksville for a rematch with Austin Peay at 7. The Bisons beat Austin Peay 104-101 in overtime at Allen Arena Nov. 18.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.