December 22, 2012 10:33:54 PM
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Jakob Gollon made two free throws with 1 minute, 19 seconds left and the Mercer University men's basketball team overcame a double-digit, first-half deficit to upset the University of Alabama 66-59 on Saturday.
Daniel Coursey scored 20 points and Travis Smith had 17 for the Bears (7-6), who entered the game without a player averaging double-figures in scoring. Gollon and Langston Hall also had 10 points apiece.
"It was an amazing, gritty determined effort by our team," Mercer coach Bob Hoffman said.
Mercer trailed by 12 points with 3:30 left in the first half. The Bears answered with a 9-2 run that was capped by Coursey's buzzer-beating dunk to give the score to 27-22 heading into halftime.
Alabama took a 59-58 lead when Levi Randolph made a jumper with 1:37 left in the game. But Mercer held the Crimson Tide scoreless and Gollon's two free throws put the Bears ahead for good.
"In the second half we found a way to make an extra pass and get some three's to go down," Hoffman said. "We started making some shots and then our defense got even better after that. ... It was a fantastic win for our program and our young men. It was a fantastic effort by a bunch of guys that stayed focused when a lot of guys lose focus this time of year trying to get home."
Gollon followed with a 3-pointer, Hall made two free throws and Gollon hit another free throw to close out the scoring for the game.
"We had breakdown and breakdown," said Alabama coach Anthony Grant, who appeared frustrated by his team's performance. "Their effort, focus, pride and performance. That is what beat us today. We didn't show up for 40 minutes today. We just didn't."
Despite all of Alabama's miscues, Grant gave credit to Mercer who he said outplayed his squad.
"It's frustrating for me to watch it and go through this experience," he said. "Their energy, their togetherness, their toughness -- all the things that you want your team. ... Mercer was focused for the entire game. We don't have one excuse. They did everything that it takes to win."
Trevor Releford scored 19 points on 6 of 14 shooting for the Crimson Tide (7-4), who have lost four of their last five games. Rodney Cooper 17 points and seven assists.
Alabama lost at home for the first time this season when leading at halftime.