(TOPEKA, Kan.) – The Central Missouri Mules missed their chance at an outright MIAA championship and a No. 1 seed in the MIAA Tournament with a 95-78 loss to Washburn on Saturday night.
The loss gives UCM a shared conference crown with Fort Hays State and the Mules will be the No. 2 seed in next week’s tournament due to FHSU’s win over the Mules.
The Mules (19-7, 13-5 MIAA) scored the first bucket of the game at the 18:32 mark on an Alex Dean layup. The teams traded baskets the next few trips down the court with UCM going back in front 9-7 on a three-pointer by Charles Hammork with 16:01 left in the first half.
After Washburn (19-7, 12-6 MIAA) went in front on a Joseph Smith jumper, Ryan Magdziarz hit a three to put UCM back in front 14-13 with 11:39 left in the half. Washburn went back in front 17-16 on a pair of Bobby Chipman free throws, but Jon Gilliam answered back with a three to put the Mules up 19-17 with 9:41 on the clock.
A 6-0 run gave the Ichabods a 23-19 lead and they would catch fire from there. They pushed the lead to six before Dean hit a pair of free throws to pull UCM within 31-27 with 3:55 left. A 9-0 run by the Ichabods gave WU a 40-27 lead before Widgett Washington scored four quick points to halt the run and pull the Mules within 40-31 at the 2:07 mark. Martin Mitchell hit a trey for Washburn to push the lead back to 12 and Will McNeill hit a three right before the half to give WU a 46-33 lead at halftime.
Washburn scored the first five points out of the intermission and extended their lead to 18 with over 19 minutes to play in the game. The Mules made some runs in the second half, but the Ichabods had an answer every time. UCM got to within 13 around the four minute mark, but a 6-2 spurt pushed the lead back to 17 and ended any hopes of a comeback.
Washington led UCM with 21 points, while Hammork had 16 and Lance Beckwith finished with 10. The Mules shot 41 percent for the game, 26-of-64, and made just 8-of-26 three-point attempts for 31 percent. UCM was 18-of-24 from the foul line for 75 percent.
McNeill led Washburn with a career-high 40 points on 13-of-21 shooting. Chipman had 12 points and Mitchell and Christian Ulsaker each had 10. The ‘Bods shot 50 percent for the game, 34-of-68 and made 6-of-11 three-point attempts for 55 percent. WU was 21-of-25 from the foul line for 84 percent.
The Mules will be back in action next Thursday night at 6 p.m. in the MIAA Tournament Quarterfinals. UCM will play the winner of No. 10 seed Truman State and seventh-seeded Pittsburg State. Those two teams will play on Monday night in Pittsburg, Kan. Thursday’s game can be heard live on 1450 KOKO, 98.5 The Bar and www.warrensburgradio.com with Shawn Jones and Greg Hassler. Airtime on the UCM Sports Network is set for 5:35 p.m.