Mules head into the Final Four
(Photo by Andrew Mather) The Mules snapped No. 4 Southern Connecticut State’s 19-game winning streak Wednesday with a 98-88 victory. The win not only advanced Central Missouri to the Final Four, but improved head coach Kim Anderson’s record in Elite Eight appearances to 3-0. The Mules play Metro State at 6 p.m. Thursday in their Final Four matchup.
(EVANSVILLE, Ind.) — The Mules had five players score in double figures Wednesday , including a career-high 28 points from Daylen Robinson as they beat Southern Connecticut State 98-88 in the Elite Eight at the Ford Center.
With the win, the Mules advance to their third Final Four under head coach Kim Anderson
.The Mules (28-5) came racing out of the gates, jumping out to a 9-2 lead just 2:34 into the game. Hot-shooting Southern Connecticut State (30-3) found their footing and began to chip away at the lead. Four straight free throws from Greg Langston and Michael Mallory cut the UCM lead to one at 14-13 and following a TJ White
bucket, DeShawn Murphy drilled a three to tie the game.Murphy hit another three to put the Owls in front 19-16 and Mallory’s layup gave the Owls a five-point lead. White scored a three-point play to cut the deficit to two, but Murphy got a dunk on the other end to push the lead back to four.A pair of free throws from Dillon Deck
got UCM within two, but Langston drilled another three to put SCSU in front by five. The Owls extended the lead to six at 34-28 with 6:11 to play in the half, but three consecutive threes sparked a 15-0 run that gave the Mules a 43-34 lead with 2:10 to play in the opening period.A layup from Langston and another from Tylon Smith cut UCM’s lead to four, but Brennen Hughes
was fouled with just 0.3 on the clock. He hit both free throws to give UCM a 45-39 lead at halftime.Both teams came out of the intermission on fire. A three from Mallory cut UCM’s lead to one at 56-55 with 15:55 to play in the game. Deck scored a bucket and Daylen Robinson
drained a three to quickly put the Mules back in front by six. UCM pushed the lead to eight on a Jordan Epps
steal and layup with 11:40 to play.
The lead grew to nine at 70-61 with 10:14 to play in the game on another three from Robinson, but SCSU used a 7-0 run to pull within 70-68 with 8:45 to play in the game.
A dunk by Charles Hammork put UCM back in front by four and Robinson’s layup at the 8:03 mark made it a six-point Mule lead.
Mallory hit back-to-back threes to cut Central Missouri’s lead to three at 76-73 with 6:38 to play, but they would get no closer.
Hammork hit a driving layup to start an 8-0 run that gave UCM an 84-73 lead with 2:48 to play. The Owls were able to get back to within six at 84-78 at the 1:51 mark, but Hammork and Robinson went a combined 10-for-10 at the free-throw line to ice the game away.
The Mules outscored the Owls 38-30 in the paint as Deck finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Robinson led UCM with a career-high 28 points on 7-of-13 shooting and 11-of-12 at the foul line. Hammork had 18 points and eight boards, while White and Jon Gilliam both finished with 11 points.
UCM shot 51 percent from the field, 33 of 65, and made 8 of 20 from beyond the arc for 40 percent. The Mules were 24 of 29 at the charity stripe for 83 percent.
Mallory led SCSU with 22 points, while Smith had 20 and Langston finished with 19 before fouling out. The Owls shot 42 percent, 28 of 66, and made 10 of 28 from three-point range for 36 percent. SCSU was 22 of 29 at the foul line for 76 percent.
The Mules are now 3-0 in Elite Eight games under Anderson and 4-1 overall. UCM will play the winner of No. 1 ranked Metro State and Tuskegee on Thursday night at 6 p.m. in the first national semifinal.