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Manor 56 Mercer 52.

Postgame audio - Coach Howie Levy:

"Unfortunately, success tends to make guys let up," said Mercer County Community College head coach Howie Levy.

"It happened in the Northwestern game [when the Wildcats could not hold a double digit halftime lead versus Purdue]. It happened in [Oregon State's] game against Washington State," added Levy. "You get a big lead and you forget to do the things that got you the big lead."

The same story played out for Mercer on Saturday afternoon, as Manor climbed out of an early 26-9 hole and pulled themselves up from a 43-30 deficit with under 15 minutes to play to pass and fend off the Vikings.

The newest members of the Garden State Athletic Conference's Region XIX ended Mercer's four game winning streak with the 56-52 win and evened the Vikings' record at 8-8.

"The big message that I send to these guys is that every basketball game is decided by a handful of possessions," Levy stated after his team's loss.

"It turned from a game played our way to a game played their way. Our offense doesn't work when we don't cut hard and our guys aren't good enough to play without it." The hard work on defense to come over screens as Mercer built their advantage and the attention to assistant coach Roger Gordon's scouting report that limited the touches of the Blue Jays' sharpshooters came undone midway through the second half.

Back-to-back threes by Stefan Thompson, who had been shut out up to this point, gave Manor their first lead, 47-46 with six minutes to go. "They have shooters that just catch the ball and shoot it. All you have to do is not let them get any shots off, just being attentive. They got two," said Levy of this stretch. "A three point shooter can have a great game and have the ball in his hands for four seconds. You can make three threes, catch and shoot, and he had a great game."

Despite the setback, Mercer has made significant strides since the last time I saw them in action in mid-November. "I think they're starting to enjoy to play this way," Levy said of his team, "but when things are tough they haven't been doing it long enough to not revert to what they did previously."

Mercer hosts Essex on Tuesday night at 7:00 pm ET.

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