Big second half propels No. 12 Mules past Missouri Western

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) — The Mules used a 22-0 run early in the second half Wednesday and held Missouri Western to 15 second half points as they cruised to a 64-42 win in the final regular season home game.
The win improves UCM’s record to 23-4 overall and 14-4 in MIAA play and secures a top-two seed in the MIAA Tournament and a bye to the quartfinals in Kansas City on Thursday, March 5.
The Mules jumped on top 10-5 at the first media timeout and were able to push the lead to eight at 17-9 with 10:29 to play in the first half. Following a Griffon (11-14, 7-11 MIAA) three that pulled MWSU within five, the Mules scored five straight points on a Kyle Wolf three and a Dillon Deck layup to lead 22-12 with 8:07 to play.
The Griffons came right back with a 7-0 run of their own to splice the lead to three. Preston Brunz then knocked down an open three to push UCM back in front by six. The UCM lead got back to seven with 3:04 to play in the half, but a 7-2 spurt by the Griffons to close the half made it 29-27 at the intermission.
Kevin Thomas scored out of the halftime break to knot the game at 29-all with 19:12 to play in the game, but that’s when the Mules would go on their big run. By the time the run was over the Mules led 51-29 with 11:02 to play in the game. The Griffons didn’t score their first field goal of the second half until the 8:27 mark and that cut the lead to 18 at 51-33.
The Mules would push the lead to as large as 22 as they coasted to their seventh straight win.
TJ White led the Mules with 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting. He was the only UCM player in double figures, but seven players scored at least five points. The Mules were 23-of-51 from the field for 45 percent, including 5-of-13 from three-point range for 39 percent. UCM was 13-of-22 at the foul line for 59 percent.
Seth Bonifas was the only Griffon to score in double figures with 10 points as Missouri Western was held to a season-low 42 points. MWSU was 16-of-42 from the field for 38 percent and 3-of-11 from beyond the arc for 27 percent. The Griffons made 7-of-14 at the foul line.
The Mules held a 34-30 edge in rebounding and a 34-24 advantage in points in the paint. The Mules forced 17 Missouri Western turnovers in the game as well.
The Mules will wrap up the regular season on Saturday afternoon at Northwest Missouri at 3:30 p.m. in a defacto MIAA championship game. The Bearcats play at Southwest Baptist on Thursday night. A win for NWMSU would set up a winner-take-all game in Maryville on Saturday afternoon. A loss would give UCM at least a share of the title heading in to Saturday’s matchup.