Najdawi fills stat sheet; The Citadel beats Mercer 79-69

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Zane Najdawi scored 18 points, with seven rebounds, four steals and three blocks and The Citadel beat Mercer 79-69 on Saturday in a Southern Conference opener.

Lew Stallworth added 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Bulldogs (6-2, 1-0). Matt Frierson had 14 points and four steals and Connor Kern scored 13 points.

Mercer (4-4, 0-1) led 33-25 at the break before The Citadel outscored the Bears 19-11 in the first eight minutes of the second half to tie it at 44. Alex Reed and Najdawi made jump shots, Reed threw down a dunk and The Citadel never trailed again. Najdawi added back-to-back layups and The Citadel led 56-46 with 8:20 remaining. Frierson’s 3-pointer with less than two minutes left extended the margin to 15.

Ross Cummings led Mercer with 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting from 3-point range, Jaylen Stowe scored 15 with five rebounds and Ethan Stair scored 11 points with 14 boards.