Mercer beats VMI 89-61, advances to SoCon semifinals

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) T.J. Hallice had a career-high 19 points and nine rebounds, and Ike Nwamu scored 19 more to lead No. 3 seed Mercer to an 89-61 win over sixth-seeded Virginia Military Institute in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference tournament Saturday night.

Stephon Jelks had 12 points and a career-high nine rebounds, and Jibri Bryan scored 14 for Mercer (18-14), which will face No. 10 seed Furman – an upset winner over second-seeded Chattanooga 69-67 – in the semifinals on Sunday.

VMI (11-19) made just 7 of 29 (24 percent) field goals, including 3 of 16 from 3-point range, in the first half and trailed 42-20 at the break.

The Keydets scored the first five points before back-to-back 3s by Bryan and Nwamu sparked a 26-4 run which gave the Bears the lead for good. Nwamu scored 12 over that stretch.

Julian Eleby led VMI with 22 points and 11 rebounds.