A season-high crowd of 3,624 saw the battle of Peach State rivals. It was the largest attendance figure at the KSU Convocation Center since Feb. 10, 2012, when 4,991 filled the arena for another Mercer game, and the third-largest in arena history, including a crowd of 4,784 for Kennesaw State’s upset of Georgia Tech in 2010.
Two Myles Hamilton free throws with just under 3:30 to play put Kennesaw State (4-21, 1-11) on top by two at 66-64, but Mercer (19-6, 10-2) closed out the game on an 11-2 run to take the second game of the two-game series from the Owls.
“It was a tough one, but I’m proud of our guys’ effort,” Kennesaw State interim head coach Jimmy Lallathin said in a university release. “I think we saw a glimpse of what this team can be. There were just times where they made the plays and we didn’t. We had some good looks and I’m proud of our fight. We looked like a basketball team as much as we have all season.”
The game saw nine total lead changes, including KSU taking the first of the second half, breaking open a 29-all halftime score with an Orlando Coleman jumper. Mercer answered, however, going up by as many as six in the first 5 minutes of action.
The Owls brought the lead to just one possession on nine occasions over the next 10 minutes, but couldn’t crack the Bears’ defense as the visitors then extended their lead to seven points on a pair of free throws at 60-53 with 7 minutes to play.
The Owls then took off, starting with a Bernard Morena layup to cut the lead down to five. Yonel Brown made it a three-point affair just 30 seconds later, hitting on a layup to set the score at 60-57. Mercer then put in two from the free-throw line, going back up by five, before Delbert Love put in two of his own to make it a 62-60 game with 5:06 to go.
Love tied the game seconds later, putting in two more from the line to make it 62-62 with 4:39 on the clock. Mercer regained a brief lead before Love tied it up once again with a jumper.
Hamilton then went on to hit the two free throws to give the Owls a two-point lead before the Bears went on their run to win by seven.
Kennesaw State started the game by putting in the first two points of the night with a Morena layup after Willy Kouassi won the opening tip. Mercer then went up by eight, a lead it held until the 7:03 mark of the first half.
Coleman kicked things off with a jumper, followed by two points in the paint from Brown as the Owls cut the lead down to 24-20 with 4:54 to go. Tanner Wozniak’s three-point play made it a one-point game, and Love tied it up at 25 with 3:51 on the clock, and again with just 2 seconds remaining on a pair of free throws, sending the game into the half at 29-all.
Brown led Kennesaw State with 12 points, followed by 10 apiece for Love and Coleman.
On the glass, Nigel Pruitt and Coleman each grabbed six rebounds.
Langston Hall had 20 points for Mercer. He was one of four Bears to reach double digits, alongside Bud Thomas’ 16, Monty Brown’s 12 and Darious Moten’s 10.