CHARLESTON, SC - Mercer (12-4, 2-1) defeated The Citadel (7-9, 0-3) 91-80 on Saturday afternoon at McAlister Field House. The Bulldogs scored 50 second-half points and freshman Connor Schroeder recorded career-highs for points (14), rebounds (six) and assists (two) in the loss.
Senior point guard P.J. Boutte posted 13 points, six assists and three rebounds in 30 minutes of action and freshman Quayson Williams added 11 points off the bench. The Citadel made 16 three-pointers to stay within striking distance, but a strong performance from Mercer's Stephon Jelks, who posted 24 and 17 rebounds, propelled the Bears to a victory.
The Bulldogs used a balanced attack in the first half as eight different players found the scoring column. Three-pointers from Schroeder and Zane Najdawi handed The Citadel a quick 6-2 edge in the opening minutes, but Mercer responded with a 17-3 run to grab a lead it would never surrender.
The Bears took a 42-30 advantage into halftime and grabbed a pair of 17-point leads in the second half. Head coach Duggar Baucom's team battled back and caught fire from three-point range each time to cut the deficit to single digits twice. Boutte, Williams and Schroeder combined to make five consecutive field goals from beyond the arc at one point and pulled the Bulldogs within seven (68-61) with 7:01 remaining.
Mercer made timely shots to stop The Citadel's momentum and staved off a comeback behind Jelks' effort in the paint. After the loss, The Citadel hosts two in-state foes next week as the Bulldogs face Wofford on Jan. 14 and Furman on Jan. 16. For more information on The Citadel basketball, follow @CitadelHoops.