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Mercer Bears Are Headed To The NCAA Tournament For The First Time In 29 Years

The Bears withstood a late Florida Gulf Coast run to clinch an Atlantic Sun title and their first NCAA bid in 29 years after near misses the past couple of years.

USA TODAY Sports

When FGCU came storming back in Dunk City, Mercer guard Langston Hall willed his team to victory. Whether it was hitting well defended jumpers, or facilitating the bigs, he did it all. And because of that, the Bears are Atlantic Sun champions and headed to their first NCAA Tournament in 29 years.

It all started early on for Bob Hoffman's Bears. They opened up a double digit lead in the first half and held Florida Gulf Coast to just 17 points prior to the break. And in vintage Mercer fashion, it was due to their dominance on the glass. They out-rebounded FGCU 24-14 in the first half, with 11 of those coming on the offensive end.

Coming out of halftime, the Eagles, thanks to Brett Comer, came charging back to cut the lead to just one about halfway through the second half. But after bigs Chase Fieler and Eric McKnight fouled out, Florida Gulf Coast couldn't find enough left in the tank to complete the comeback on their home floor.

After the Bears were heartbroken watching the NCAA Tournament in Macon last year, this senior team finally broke through and will have a chance to make some of their own noise in the tournament. As noted our Cinderella Watch, they aren't a team to be taken lightly. They're the only team in the NCAA to start five seniors and have a plethora of scoring options.

That was especially the case this Sunday afternoon as the Bears had four double digit scorers: Hall and Anthony White Jr. with 15 each, Jakob Gollon with 12, and Daniel Coursey with 12.

It's safe to say that Macon faithful we're excited.

Mercer's victory today is their first Atlantic Sun Tournament championship and their last as they'll move on to the Southern Conference next season.