MARYVILLE, Mo. — Central Missouri received some hot shooting in the second half and came from behind to post a 76-63 win against No. 14 Northwest Missouri State on Saturday afternoon at Bearcat Arena in Maryville, Mo. The Mules shot 68 percent in the second half after shooting just 25 percent in the first half and completed a regular season sweep of the Bearcats.
The win was Central Missouri’s fourth win of the season against a ranked opponent and second against the Bearcats.
Northwest Missouri (20-4, 14-4 MIAA) jumped out to an early 6-2 lead as both teams struggled shooting the ball. The Bearcats extended the lead to 9-4 with 13:04 left in the half, but a 5-0 run by UCM tied the game 9-9 with 5:40 left in the half.
The teams traded three-pointers to make it 12-12 with 4:50 to go in the stanza, but the Bearcats went on a 7-0 run to grab a 19-12 lead with just under two and a half minutes to play. The Mules (17-7, 13-5 MIAA) responded with a 5-0 run of their own to pull within 19-17 at halftime. Boo Hunter hit a pair of free throws then drilled a three-pointer to pull the Mules within two at the break.
Both teams struggled in the first half with UCM shooting just 25 percent, 6-of-24 from the field. The Bearcats weren’t much better at 36 percent, 8-of-22. Both teams were 2-of-7 from beyond the arc.
The Mules hit a pair of threes out of the intermisson by Hunter and DJ Slifer to tie the game 23-23 with 18:43 to play and grabbed their first lead of the game at 25-23 on the next possession when Matt Webb got a layup off the feed from Hunter.
The Bearcats went back in front on a trey, but the Mules responded with a 14-2 run to grab the lead for good and open a 39-28 lead with 12:07 to play in the game. After a NWMSU bucket cut the lead to nine, the Mules scored four quick points to push the lead to 13 with under 10 minutes to play.
A 6-0 run by the Bearcats cut the UCM lead to 49-42 with 6:50 on the clock, but the Mules responded with a 10-2 run to open their largest lead of the game, 59-44, at the 4:45 mark. The Bearcats wouldn’t get closer than eight the rest of the way as the Mules iced the game from the free throw line when NWMSU went into foul mode over the last four minutes.
Hunter led five Mules in double figures with 14 points. Widgett Washington had 13 points and six assists, while Lance Beckwith and Alex Dean chipped in 11 and Dominique Long had 10. Beckwith had a game-high eight rebounds and Long added seven.
The Mules were 25-of-52 from the field for 48 percent, including 19-of-28 for 68 percent in the second half. UCM was 6-of-14 from three-point range and made 20-of-26 foul shots for 77 percent.
The Bearcats shot 41 percent from the floor, 23-of-56, and 37 percent from beyond the arc, 7-of-19. NWMSU was 10-of-14 from the charity stripe for 71 percent. DeShaun Cooper led all scorers with 21 points and added seven assists. Jake Reinders had 16 points for the Bearcats and DeAngelo Hailey added 11.
The win pulls UCM to within a game of the conference-leading Bearcats with two games to play. The win was also the seventh in a row against the Bearcats for Central Missouri and the third consecutive in Maryville.
The Mules are back in action on Wednesday night when they travel to St. Joseph, Mo. to battle the Griffons of Missouri Western.