(MARYVILLE, Mo.) — The Central Missouri Mules struggled offensively with their worst shooting performance of the season in an 80-68 loss to Northwest Missouri at Bearcat Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Mules shot just 36 percent from the field as they fell to 14-4 overall and 6-3 in MIAA play.
The Bearcats (13-5, 8-1 MIAA) came out on fire as they built an early lead. Northwest Missouri led by two with 16:00 left in the half when they went on an 11-1 run to open a 20-8 lead with 11:49 left.
The Mules closed to within eight on a pair of Dillon Deck free throws, but a 9-4 spurt put the Bearcats up 29-16 with 5:35 remaining in the opening stanza.
The Bearcats pushed the lead to as many as 19 in the first half, leading 38-19 with 2:36 left in the half. UCM battled back and closed to within 12 at 39-27 with just over a minute left in the half. The Mules had a pair of shots near the end of the half to pull within single digits, but as happened throughout the game the Mules couldn’t get the shots to fall.
Central Missouri opened the second half on an 8-2 run to pull within six at 41-35 with 15:46 left in the game, but the Bearcats responded with a three from Zach Schneider to push the lead back to eight.
Northwest pushed the lead back to a dozen with 11:24 to play in the game before UCM got it back to within nine at 56-47 with 9:12 to play. The Mules got back to within eight, but could get no closer. The Bearcats were able to open up the lead and ice the game at the foul line for the 12 point win.
UCM shot a season-low 36 percent, 20 of 55, including just 5 of 18 from beyond the arc for 28 percent. The Mules were 23 of 31 at the foul line for 74 percent.
The Bearcats shot 24 of 45 from the field for 53 percent and made 50 percent of their three-point attempts, 8 of 16. NWMSU was 24 of 32 at the foul line for 75 percent.
DeShaun Cooper led five Bearcats in double figures with 16 points to go along with five rebounds and five assists. Northwest Missouri had 11 assists on the night, but did commit 14 turnovers.
The loss snaps Central Missouri’s nine-game winning streak in the series.
The Mules look to rebound on Wednesday night at Lincoln. Tipoff from Jason Gym in Jefferson City is set for 7:30 p.m. The game can be heard live on 1450 KOKO, 98.5 The Bar and warrensburgradio.com.