Published March 09, 2014
Macon, GA – Fort Myers, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - For Mercer, revenge is sweet.
Langston Hall and Anthony White Jr. each scored 15 points as the Bears held off late-charging Florida Gulf Coast 68-60 to capture the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament title and book their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 29 years.
The game was a rematch of last year's final, won by Florida Gulf Coast on Mercer's home floor.
Mercer returned the favor on Sunday, ending the Eagles' 12-game home winning streak and their hopes of another storybook run in the NCAA Tournament. FGCU advanced to the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed, knocking off both Georgetown and San Diego State.
The Bears (26-8), who will join the Southern Conference next season, got 13 points from Daniel Coursey.
Brett Comer and Bernard Thompson scored 14 points apiece for an Eagles (22-12) team that fell behind by 18 in the first half and nearly climbed out of the hole.
The start to the game was delayed due to a power problem at Alico Arena, where FGCU had won 17 straight against A-Sun teams.
The issue was a harbinger of the Eagles' flickering offense in the first half.
FGCU shot 20.8 percent (5-of-24) and Mercer seized control behind a 20-2 run.
The Bears were cold shooting to begin the second half, missing 11-of-12 from the floor, and the Eagles chipped away at the deficit.
They pulled to within 43-42 on a Chase Fieler layup with 8:50 remaining, but couldn't move ahead. FGCU held the lead only once in the game, after Thompson opened the scoring with a free throw.
Mercer responded with a 7-0 run to create a little distance.
FGCU continued to hang around, with a Thompson layup closing the gap to 59-56 with 2:29 to play. Eric McKnight was fouled on the play, but missed both free throws for the Eagles.
Hall then hit a pullup jumper and Coursey sank two free throws to make it 63-56 with one minute left.
FGCU became the fourth team to reach the A-Sun title game three straight years ... Both teams went 14-4 to share the regular-season league title, but FGCU won the tiebreaker for the top seed ... Thompson became the Eagles' all-time leading scorer with 1,379 points. He passed Ryan Hopkins, who had 1,367 points from 2002-05 ... Comer registered five assists to tie Bryan Crislip (2002-05) for the most in school history with 606.