The men’s basketball team is off to a great start this season. Having won six straight games, four being conference games, before traveling to play conference foe Mercer.
With 14 wins on the season and only four losses before playing Mercer, it was no surprise the Bucs were favored for a win.
However, Mercer started the game well in the first half shooting 52 percent from field goal. Whereas the Bucs offensively had their struggles converting on 34 percent of their shots taken.
Jeromy Rodriguez (Santiago, Dominican Republic), led the Bucs offensively in the first half, converting all three shot attempts at the half for eight points and six rebounds.
As poor as the Bucs shot in the first half, they found themselves trailing only four points at halftime.
“I did not think we came out to play,” Head Coach Steve Forbes said. “[Mercer] did.”
The Bucs’ second half offensively was much better with shots from the field goal at 44 percent, but they still struggled to get any rhythm from outside the perimeter. Rodriguez continued to be a reliable scorer and has been a major factor on the boards throughout the season.
In the second half Rodriguez scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds with five being offensive rebounds. Mercer guard Ross Cummings had an explosive second half, scoring 17 points of the team’s 36 points.
“I think the rebounding made a huge difference,” Forbes said. “That’s 27 extra chances to win.”
Outscoring Mercer 35 to 31, the Bucs put themselves in a position to win in overtime. The Bucs were able to escape a pesky Mercer, scoring nine points to Mercer’s four in overtime.
With the 72-68 win, the Bucs improved to 15-4 record and have now won seven straight games. Following the win the Bucs moved to No.8 ranked in the mid-major top 25.
Rodriguez finsihed with 20 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Bucs.
“He’s just a monster,” Forbes said of Rodriguez. “Just a really good player with a lot of passion.”