DENVER - University of Denver men's basketball junior forwards Royce O'Neale (Killeen, Texas) scored a career-high 22 points and Chris Udofia (Irving, Texas) added 14, leading the Pioneers to a 69-40 victory over Mercer on Wednesday night at Magness Arena.
"Our guys executed our game plan," head coach Joe Scott said. "We have been playing bigger teams, and we bottled up their big men. Our offensive execution looked the way we wanted, and we put the ball in the basket."
Sophomore guard Brett Olson (Highlands Ranch,
Colo.) finished with 10 points for Denver (2-5), including a pair three-point
field goals, and freshman guard Jalen Love (Wichita, Kan.) dished out a career-best five assists in his first
collegiate start. Senior guard Chase Hallam (Mesquite, Texas) moved into fifth on Denver's all-time steals list
with 143 and also grabbed his 400th career rebound in the contest,
while adding nine points, five rebounds and four assists.
Denver shot a season-high 53.7 percent (29-of-54) from the field, while holding the Bears to 15-of-42 (35.7 percent) in the contest, the lowest percentage by a DU opponent this season.
O'Neale scored Denver's first 10 Denver points in the contest, but Mercer kept it close in the early going. The Bears tied the game three times and neither team scored consecutive baskets until O'Neale and Olson each found the bottom of the net 7:33 in.
Midway through the opening stanza, Hallam drilled a jumper as the shot clock expired, kick-starting a 15-1 Denver run over the next 5:22, led by seven-straight points by Udofia.
Both teams went without a basket for nearly the next four minutes after that run, until Mercer's Chris Smith hit a five-foot floater to end a run of 10:39 without a Mercer bucket. After an O'Neale three-point play to end the half, Denver took a 33-19 lead into the intermission.
Denver continued to stretch the lead in the second half, continuing the hot shooting by hitting 15-of-27 (55.6 percent) after the break.
Mercer's Daniel Coursey led the Bears (4-5) in scoring with 11 on 5-of-6 shooting.
The Pioneers will take a rare 10-day break before hitting the Magness Arena hardwood again against Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday, December 15 at 4 p.m. MT.
Visit denverpioneers.com for complete coverage of all 17 of DU's Division I athletic programs.
--EXPERIENCE DENVER ATHLETICS-
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