Reuters, Published March 21 2014
Mercer stuns DukeRALEIGH, N.C. -- In the first game of NCAA Tournament play Friday, the Atlantic Sun rose again, with conference champion Mercer shocking third-seeded Duke 78-71 in a second round Midwest Regional game.
Mercer follows Florida Gulf Coast, the darling of the 2013 NCAA Tournament from the Atlantic Sun, in advancing to a third round game Sunday in the school's first appearance in the event in 29 years. The Bears will face the winner of Tennessee-Massachusetts.
Forward Jakob Gollon scored 20 points, including 15 in the second half, and forward Daniel Coursey poured in 17 points for the 14th-seeded Bears (27-8), who received 13 points from guard Anthony White Jr.
Duke exited the tournament with an 0-1 mark for the second time in three seasons. The Blue Devils were coming off a loss to Virginia in Sunday's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final.
Guard Quinn Cook scored 23 points and guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who knocked down a season-high five 3-point baskets, finished with 20 points for third-seeded Duke (26-9). Freshman forward Jabari Parker had 14 points.
White's 3-point basket tied the game at 63-63 with 2:41 left.
Parker misfired on a 3-pointer for Duke, then Gollon made both ends of a 1-and-1 with 1:54 to play. Duke forward Rodney Hood was called for a traveling violation with 1:33 left.
Coursey's three-point play built Mercer's edge to 68-63 with 1:07 on the clock.
The second half was filled with potentially key sequences.
Mercer's 45-40 lead began to fade with guard Tyler Thornton's 3-pointer. The Blue Devils were ahead again at 48-45 on Cook's 3. Another Cook 3-pointer with 9:05 to go allowed the Blue Devils to grab a 54-51 lead. Mercer pulled even on Gollon's three-point play at the 7:21 mark.
Cook countered with a 3-pointer as the teams traded taking the lead.
Parker's three-point play gave the Blue Devils a 60-58 lead. Parker blocked Gollon's attempt in the lane on the next possession. Thornton converted three free throws for Duke after he was fouled on a 3-point attempt.
It was reminiscent to Duke's last in-state NCAA Tournament game when the Blue Devils fell to Lehigh in 2012 in Greensboro in the same round.
Duke held a 35-34 halftime lead after building as much as a seven-point gap.
Duke connected on eight first-half 3-pointers, but Mercer forward Jakob Gollon's 3 in the final minute gave the Bears seven consecutive points and a brief one-point edge.
Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon hit two early 3-point baskets, and a third one for a 20-17 lead with 9:32 left in the half. His next 3 came a minute later.
Mercer guard Ike Nwamu countered with 11 first-half points off the bench.
The Blue Devils launched 21 of their 34 first-half shots from 3-point range. The first 10 offensive rebounds were also collected by Duke.