Mercer's magic ran out of steam on Sunday as the Bears couldn't find their stroke and fell 83-63 to Tennessee.
Although they weren't converting on some usually made attempts, the storyline was the Bears' awful performance on the glass. Center Daniel Coursey only snagged three rebounds and the Vols dominated one the scoresheet, 41-19. At halftime, Mercer had recorded just four rebounds to Tennessee's 24. Most of that was courtesy of Jarnell Stokes, who has been a monster as of late. He grabbed 18 rebounds to go along with his 17 points.
In similar fashion to Friday, the Bears went zone on defense to take away individual matchups. Although the Vols are typically a awful 3-point shooting team, they hit timely ones to build an early lead. But, Mercer came storming back to tie at 10. Unfortunately, that was as close as it would get the rest of the game as Tennessee pulled away 42-27 at halftime.
After the break, with others struggling, senior Anthony White Jr. did everything in his power to will the Bears back, recording 11 straight points. But the advantage lay on the other end where Tennessee bullied them inside. While Duke settled for outside shots against the zone, the Vols relentlessly threw it inside where Stokes went to work.
Coursey struggled against Stokes, and he missed some easy ones on the other end as well, going 5-for-11 from the field. (It also probably didn't help that Monty Brown was out for the game with concussion symptoms. The lack of another big man inside hurt the Bears). Adding to the issues, his high ball screen with Langston Hall proved inefficient as Tennessee had it snuffed out . Hall ended the day with 15 points and 6 assists.
It wasn't enough though, as the Bears cut the lead to 12 or 13 a couple of times but couldn't seem to get over the hump. Heading to the Southern Conference next season, they end the season 27-9 and lose seven seniors, including their starting five.