Jakob Gollon scored 20 points and the Bears, a 14-seed, knocked off 3-seed Duke.
Daniel Coursey added 17 points. Five Bears reached double digits.
Trailing 35-34 at halftime, the Bears were locked out of their locker room, but it didn’t seem to bother them. They opened the second half on an 11-5 run.
"We couldn’t even get in our locker room for the first two minutes, and (coach) Hoffman was freaking out," Coursey says with a laugh. "But we were pretty calm. We were ready to come out there in the second half and do what we needed to do to get it done."
The Bears maintained since "Selection Sunday" they were capable of beating Duke, even though the Blue Devils feature multiple NBA draft prospects, including Jabari Parker. Parker was held to just 14 points.
"Duke’s a great team," Ike Nwamu, a sophomore from North Carolina, says. "Coach K is probably one of the best coaches ever, so what we wanted to do was execute our game plan and do what we’ve been doing all year. We’ve got to thank God for this one man."
Last Sunday, Mercer president Bill Underwood said the Bears would soon show the world how to dance. After the game, Kevin Canevari, a senior from North Carolina, was shown on national television "hitting the NaeNae," a popular dance.
"It’s been a goal of ours all year to get here, and then once we got here it was a goal to actually make a statement," Canevari says. "We’re not just happy being here. We’re confident, honestly. Our core group of seniors have been here for a while, and we’re happy."
Sunday, Mercer will face Tennessee. In last year’s National Invitation Tournament (NIT), the Bears knocked off the Vols in Knoxville, 75-67.