Alvarez helps Mercer defeat VMI, gain 1st SoCon title game


ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Neftali Alvarez scored 23 points, making a trio of 3-pointers, and seventh-seeded Mercer defeated Southern Conference tournament upstart VMI 73-59 in the semifinal round on Sunday night.

After upsetting second-seeded Wofford in the quarterfinals, Mercer (18-10) will meet top-seeded UNC Greensboro in Monday’s championship game. The Bears have reached the semifinals once before in 2015, but never the title game.

Alvarez scored from inside as well as from the arc, showcasing a variety of spin moves and drives to finish 9-for-19. Felipe Haase added 15 points and 11 rebounds while Leon Ayers III scored 14.

VMI (13-12) had not appeared in the SoCon semifinals since 2003 and edged Furman in overtime to get there Sunday. Myles Lewis led the Keydets with 24 points on 10 of 16 shooting and also pulled down 14 rebounds. Greg Parham added 12 points with five assists.

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