DELAND, Fla. – Freshman forward Luis Jacobo scored 16 of his career-high 18 points in the first half and Stetson held on for a 79-72 win over Mercer on Friday night.
Stetson (6-11, 4-3 Atlantic Sun Conference) built a 39-29 halftime lead behind Jacobo, who connected on 7 of 9 shots, including two 3-pointers. Stetson also got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Ridge Graham and 15 points from Joel Naburgs.
Mercer guards Jeff Smith and Langston Hall combined for 27 points in the second half. Smith twice cut the lead to four points, making a 3-pointer with 2:26 to play and two free throws with 56.2 seconds remaining.
But Stetson held off Mercer by making 6 of 8 free throws in the final minute.
Smith finished with 21 points and Hall had 20 for the Bears (4-13, 1-5), who lost for the sixth time in their last seven games.
The game was tied at 22 when Stetson pushed its zone defense farther out on the perimeter after Mercer had hit three consecutive outside shots, including 3-pointers by Smith and Hall.
The Hatters then went on a 17-4 run led by Jacobo, who provided nine points, for a 13-point lead at 39-26, while Mercer made just 3 of 14 shots in the last 9:24 of the first half.
Stetson matched its largest lead at 13 points when Corey Walden hit the second of two free throws for a 61-48 lead with 7:19 left.
Stetson senior center Graeme Radford led a 35-25 rebounding advantage by pulling down a career-high 10 boards.