MACON, Ga. – Senior guard Demetre Rivers scored 21 points on seven of eight shooting from the floor to help lead Mercer to an 82-58 win over VMI in Southern Conference basketball action Thursday night at Hawkins Arena.
The Bears posted their fourth straight conference win to even their league mark to 7-7 and moved to 14-13 overall.
VMI freshman guard Bubba Parham, returning to his native state after compiling a stellar scholastic career at nearby Snellville in the Atlanta metro area, extended his double-figures scoring to 13 games and led the Keydets with 16 points.
Keydet junior forward Austin Vereen finished with 14 points and drained four three-point shots marking the 10th time this season he has hit three or more treys in a game. Freshman guard Jordan Ratliffe scored in double figures for the third straight game with 14 points and equaled his season and career high in scoring for the fourth time.
VMI fell to 7-18 overall and 2-12 in the SoCon.
Sophomore guard Ross Cummings added 14 points and senior guard Jordan Strawberry tallied 10 points and eight assists for the Bears.
The Keydets started the game cold from the floor hitting two of their first 15 shot attempts as the Bears built a 19-point lead at the 8:12 mark despite top rebounder Stephon Jelks picking up two early fouls. VMI also opened the game one of nine from three-point distance while the Bears controlled the boards and limited Keydet follow-up opportunities.
A Strawberry three-pointer at the 5:40 mark pushed the Mercer advantage to 20 points and the Bears led by as many as 22 when Stowe threw in a dunk with 3:01 left in the first half.
Mercer took a 41-23 lead into the locker room at halftime as Rivers led the Bears with 10 first half points on 4 of 5 shooting. The Bears also capitalized on six Keydet turnovers that were converted into 12 points.
The Bears fired up their perimeter game in the second half behind the 3-point shooting of Cummings who dropped in back-to-back treys to start the half. An 11-0 run over three minutes capped by another Cummings 3-pointer gave the Bears a 64-34 lead at the 12:40 mark.
Mercer shot 52% for the game and was 12 of 27 (44.4%) beyond the arc and converted 18 of 21 from the foul line.
The Keydets shot 36.7% from the floor and generated half of their made field goals with 11 three-pointers. It was the sixth time this season VMI had hit 10 or more treys in a game and the first since January 27 at Chattanooga.
VMI travels to The Citadel Saturday for a 1 pm showdown at McAllister Field House in Charleston, S.C. The Keydets prevailed in the first regular season meeting between the teams, 88-81, on January 20 in Lexington.