Mules outlast Northwest Missouri 66-61

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) — The 25th-ranked Mules outscored Northwest Missouri State 16-8 over the final 4:12 to erase a three-point deficit and beat the Bearcats 66-61 in front of 5,500 fans at the UCM Multipurpose Building on Saturday afternoon. The back and forth battle had nine ties and 12 lead changes.
The Mules (15-3, 6-3 MIAA) raced out to an early 9-4 advantage hitting their first four shots. The Bearcats (13-4, 6-3 MIAA) came right back with a 9-0 run of their own, capped by a Connor Crooker three-pointer at the 14:52 mark to take a 13-9 lead.
NWMSU led 15-11 when the Mules scored five straight points to regain the lead at 16-15. The Bearcats went right back in front on a Crooker jumper and the back and forth battle was on. A pair of foul shots by Justin Pitts extended the Bearcat lead to three, but a Dillon Deck layup and Preston Brunz jumper put UCM back in front by a point. Northwest Missouri went back in front on a Pitts three-pointer and they would extend their lead to five at 33-28 on another Crooker three-pointer with 3:26 to play in the half.
A layup from Brennen Hughes and a three from Tony Cochran tied the game at 33, but Zach Schneider was fouled while shooting a three and made all three foul shots to put NWMSU back in front 36-33. Hughes scored at the 1:14 mark to make it 36-35 and that’s how the teams would go into halftime.
The Mules scored the first four points out of the intermission to regain the lead, 39-36, and force a Bearcat timeout. UCM led by three at 43-40 with 12:54 to play in the game, but a Brett Dougherty layup and two foul shots from Crooker put the Bearcats back into the lead with 11:52 to play. Grant Cozad’s layup pushed the lead to three, but Hughes answered with a three-point play to tie the game.
Rakeem Dickerson‘s layup at the 6:02 mark gave UCM a 50-48 lead, but Schneider hit a three to put NWMSU in front and Matt Wallace nailed a jumper to make it a three-point game with 4:38 to play. The Mules got back to within a point on two free throws from Brunz and Hughes’ dunk gave the Mules a 54-53 lead with 3:10 to play. Cozad hit a pair of free throws to give the Bearcats a 55-54 lead, but Dickerson’s layup gave the Mules their final lead of the game. TJ White scored on a layup at the 1:53 mark and UCM led 58-55.
Dickerson scored a layup and then made two free throws after a Bearcat bucket to give the Mules a 62-57 lead with :41 to play. Following a Lyle Harris layup, White made 1-of-2 at the foul line and UCM led by five, 64-59. Crooker made a pair of free throws to pull the Bearcats within three, but Dickerson made two free throws with 16 seconds left to ice the game.
Dickerson led all scorers with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He also pulled down five rebounds. Hughes finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, while shooting 8-of-10 from the field, and White had 12 points and six boards.
The Mules shot 56 percent for the game, 25-of-45, but were just 1-of-8 from three-point range. UCM was 15-of-22 at the foul line for 68 percent. The Mules out-rebounded the Bearcats 29-23 and out-scored them 48-28 in the paint and 11-5 in second chance opportunities.
Crooker and Pitts led three Bearcats in double figures with 16 points each, while Schneider finished with 11. NWMSU was 21-of-49 from the floor for 43 percent, but just 9-of-24 in the second half for 38 percent. The Bearcats were 6-of-20 from beyond the arc for 30 percent and 13-of-15 at the charity stripe for 87 percent.
The Mules now sit a half game back of Lindenwood and Pittsburg State, who are both 6-2, atop the MIAA standings. UCM returns to action on Wednesday night hosting Lincoln at 7:30 p.m. at the UCM Multipurpose Building. A pay-per-view webcast is available through UCM’s Stretch Internet portal at portal.stretchinternet.com/ucmo/.
Wednesday’s game will also feature the Mules’ national championship replica ring giveaway. The first 2,500 fans through the doors will receive a voucher upon entrance to the arena that will be good for one commemorative ring. Fans can redeem their vouchers at the west end of the Multipurpose Building to receive their ring. Fans must have a ticket to receive a voucher with a limit of one voucher and one ring per person. Doors to the arena will open at 4:30 p.m.