NCAA News Wire

Mercer 78, Duke 71

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RALEIGH, 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.

NOTES: Mercer C Monty Brown missed the second half with a concussion. He was seated on the bench with ear plugs for noise sensitivity. … Mercer is in the NCAA Tournament for the third time, but its first appearance since 1985. … Duke entered the game seeking its 100th all-time NCAA Tournament victory. … Duke assistant coaches Steve Wojciechowski and Nate James were players for the Blue Devils the last time they faced Mercer on Dec. 21, 1997.