In one of the most enthralling college basketball games of the NCAA Tournament, No. 14 Mercer upset No.3 Duke on Friday afternoon in Raleigh, 78-71.
It was a tight game from the start, but Mercer would break the game open with a 20-8 run in the final minutes. They owned a five point-lead with 67 seconds remaining. Duke attempted to rally back, but the Blue Devils were undone by some poor shot selection and turnovers.
Mercer shot 55.6 percent from the field. While Duke relied on outside shots, Mercer found a way to spread their shots inside and outside.
The Bears, who boast seven seniors and five senior starters, showed their veteran leadership in beating a rather young Duke squad. Mercer had just eight turnovers, compared to Duke’s 12.
“These dudes believe in each other,” said head coach Bob Hoffman.
Hoffman would let out a loud and animated cheer while being interviewed by CBS reporter Rachel Nichols. When asked about how underdog Mercer could fare for the rest of the tournament, Hoffman maintained his positivity.
“With these guys? I don’t know who’s beating us,” said Hoffman.
Daniel Coursey led the Bears with 20 points. Mercer had four players score in double digits.
Desperation heaves from three-point range from Duke didn’t drop in the final moments, though the Blue Devils shot an impressive 15-37 from beyond the arc. Duke converted just 35.5 percent of their overall shot attempts.
It was a particularly distressing game for Jabari Parker. The superstar freshman, who is expected to be selected in the top three spots in the NBA Draft, scored just 14 points, converting just four shots on 14 attempts, and played much of the second half in foul trouble. Rodney Hood, another NBA prospect, scored just six points and fouled out.
Guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon each scored 20 points for Duke.
Mercer will play the winner of UMass and Tennessee on Sunday.