The No. 18 Central Missouri Mules held off the Missouri Southern Lions 79-68 on Wednesday night at the UCM Multipurpose Building. The Lions played the Mules tough again, having beaten them once already back on December 6 in Joplin.
Central Missouri (16-3, 9-3 MIAA) moved into sole possession of first place with the win, a half game ahead of No. 9 Southwest Baptist, who had a bye Wednesday night.
The teams traded leads eight times in the first 15 minutes of the half before the Mules started to take control. The Lions cut that margin down to one on four occasions in the first six minutes of the second half, but UCM answered every time. A 9-3 rally by the Mules pushed their lead to seven with 11:37 left, but the Lions kept coming and didn’t let UCM get up by more than that.
The closest the Lions would get was three with as little as 2:13 left.