The Mercer Bears have given the 2014 NCAA Tournament its first major upset.
After trailing Duke 63-58 with just under five minutes to play, the No. 14 seed Mercer used a 20-8 run to close out the No. 3 seed Blue Devils en route to a monumental second round 78-71 upset at PNC Area in Raleigh, NC.
In their first tournament since 1985 and only third appearance in school history, Mercer showed no signs of rust as they never trailed by more than seven points to one of college basketball’s most storied programs.
The Bears were led by Jakob Gollon who scored 18 points and added five rebounds. Senior forward Daniel Coursey struggled with foul trouble but finished with 17 points and converted a huge dunk plus the foul to put Mercer ahead 68-63 with 1:07 left in the game.
The win was the first NCAA Tournament win for Mercer in school history.
Duke, led by 23 points from junior guard Quinn Cook, shot 37 of their 62 shots from behind the arc. Despite hitting 41 percent from deep, the Blue Devils couldn’t overcome Mercer’s timely shots and defensive stands.
Jabari Parker, the ACC Freshman of the Year, was saddled with his third foul early in the second half. He struggled from the field, shooting only 28 percent, and tried to do way too much at times. With the potential of the NBA calling his name in June, the disappointing loss to Mercer could be Parker’s last game as a Blue Devil.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has seen his squad lose to lower seeds in two of the past three NCAA Tournaments. In 2012, Duke fell to No. 15 seed Lehigh in their first game. In 2014, it was Mercer that shocked the legendary coach.
Has the Duke basketball program lost its tournament luster? It will all depend on if Parker decides to stay or go.