Central Missouri was a 3-5 team entering its Dec. 7 matchup against undefeated and No. 1 Northwest Missouri State. The Mules pulled off their biggest win yet in the largest upset of the young DII men's basketball season, winning 72-60 over the Bearcats.
That was the first loss for Northwest Missouri State since March 10, 2018 when the Bearcats fell 60-50 in the first-round of the DII men's basketball championship, ending a run of 46-straight wins. Here's how the Mules pulled it off.
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Central Missouri kept the Bearcats sharp-shooters in check
Northwest Missouri State wasn't simply winning. The Bearcats were a fine-tuned machine, shooting 53.7 percent from the field, 45.9 percent from 3, and 83.3 percent from the line as a team who put up 88.6 points a night against nationally-ranked and winning teams.
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The Mules held the Bearcats well below those season norms. Northwest Missouri State shot 36.5 percent from the floor, 24.1 percent from behind the arc, and 75 percent from the line. Northwest Missouri State's 60 points were its second-lowest output since that loss in 2018. That helped Central Missouri hold the lead for 21:47 of the game, including holding the lead for the final 6:16 of the game.
The Mules matched a season-high in points scored
Seventy-two is the magic number for Central Missouri. Its the most points the Mules have scored in a game this season and they have done it three times, going 2-1 when they hit the mark.
The Mules actually trailed 26-25 at the first half before outscoring the Bearcats 47-34 on an impressive shooting display — 56 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3 — in the second half. Kendale Hampton led the way with 20 points, going 6-for-9 from behind the arc. Three other Mules — Matt Wilkinson, Gaven Pinkley, and Garrett Luinstra — broke double-digits.
Winning — and losing — streak snaps
Central Missouri ends the Bearcats impressive 46-game winning streak, leaving them 11 shy of the DII men's basketball record of 57 by Winona State. But a more important streak for the Mules also came to an end.
The Mules had lost the last nine to Northwest Missouri State. Their last win came in January of 2015 when the Mules won 66-61 at home. While this may knock the Bearcats from their No. 1 perch for a week or two, there's no denying they are still amongst DII men's basketball's elite, making this a very impressive upset by the Mules.