Jake Moore, Staff Writer—
At the end of the first half, the Mocs had the momentum but second half rebounding struggles decimated the Mocs—resulting in a 69-74 loss.
“Overall as a team, we didn’t compete on the boards,” said head coach Lamont Paris. “We have to do some soul-searching to get that thing figured out. That is one of the more correctable things in the world. If you had a team that was just there laying bricks from three, you go back to the lab and figure out how to get a better three-point field goal percentage. I don’t know how you do that, but you can be more physical as a rebounding team. I know you can do that.”
After leading by eight at the end of the first half, Mercer came out aggressive in the second. They were playing tough defense and making vital use of offensive possessions. They scored an impressive 40 second half points.
“I wasn’t even mad, I was frustrated with the guys in the locker room,” said Paris. “I didn’t get mad. What are you going to do. We didn’t get one time where a guy got a foul called because he was blocking out someone hard. You have to be fed up with giving up offensive rebounds. What are you made out of? What is inside you? What are you made out of at the end of the day?
The Mocs were lead by Jerry Johnson Jr., Memphis. He scored 17 points, David Jean-Baptiste, Miami, nearly matched Johnson with 16 points. Mercer was led by Ross Cummings, he dropped 37 points in the contest.
“He made some tough shots,” said Paris. “Some shots that your coach would never say, that was a good look. Probably made four of those. Then he had some other ones. He probably made four other ones that we made too easy on him. Then the rest of them were probably the general, run-of-the-mill basketball plays that are going to happen. He is a good player, there is no question. He scored 37 points like that for a reason.”
Rebounding was another major factor in the Mocs loss. The Mocs were only able to grab 25 boards while Mercer was able to absorb 41.
“We definitely have to get back and practice on our rebounding,” said Keigan Kerby, Hampton Beach, NH. “It is not something you can stop working on halfway through the season. I know we haven’t stopped working on it, but it is not something you can just turn on and off. You have to have the mentality going in to it that you have to have every rebound and you have to do whatever you can to get it.”
The Mocs fall to 12-17 on the season (5th place in the SoCon). The Mocs will return home to play their final two games of the regular season.