BOCA RATON, Fla.- The Mercer men's basketball team fell, 91-80, to Florida Atlantic in Atlantic Sun Conference action Saturday afternoon in FAU Arena.
Florida Atlantic spurted out to an early 5-0 lead on senior Fred Marshall's jumper and a Kevin Green 3-pointer, but the Bears quickly answered, taking the lead at 7-5 on the strength of a Brian Pfohl put-back off a Will Emerson miss, a layup by guard Andrew Brown and a long trey by Jacob Skogen.
Another basket by Marshall knotted the game at 7-7, before Mercer (4-7, 2-3 A-Sun) ran off five straight points on a basket by Emerson and Skogen's driving baseline jumper and ensuing free throw.
Florida Atlantic (5-7, 4-1 A-Sun) responded with a 13-4 run, taking a 25-21 edge, with the Owls eventually pushing out to take their largest lead of the opening half on forward Rodney Webb's 3-pointer, putting FAU up, 34-27. The Bears battled back, cutting the deficit to only one shortly before the break. Back-to-back 3-pointers by FAU leading- scorer DeAndre Rice and Green gave Florida Atlantic another seven-point lead with under 30 seconds remaining in the half, before Bears' forward Shaddean Aaron drained a 3-pointer from the wing with just 9.3 ticks on the clock to set the halftime score at 42-38.
Andrew Brown led all scorers at the break with 11 points, while Owls' freshman Carlo Monroe, who was just recently declared eligible by the NCAA, led FAU with 10 first-half points and four rebounds in his first action.
Florida Atlantic scored the first six points of the second half, taking a 10-point lead, before Jacob Skogen broke the run with his second three-point play the old-fashioned way of the afternoon.
Mercer trailed by as many as 17 in the second half, but could not get any closer than 10 points twice late in the second half. The Bears placed three players in double figures, led by Skogen and Brown's game-high 24 points, while freshman Montavious Waters netted 10 points. Four Owls reached double figures, led by Rice's 20 points.
The Bears were out-rebounded 28-25 on the afternoon, with Emerson grabbing a team-high six boards.
The Bears have a week off from competition before resuming conference play with a two-game road swing in Nashville, Tenn., beginning with Lipscomb on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 2 p.m.