Clutch buckets and free throws by senior guard De’Andre Byrd helped the No. 8 Central Missouri Mules survive overtime for the second time in as many games in the MIAA Tournament against Washburn, 72-69.
The win puts second-seeded Central Missouri (25-4) in the championship game against the Cinderella eight seed, Missouri Western (14-15), on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
It was a wild finish to regulation as Washburn (16-13) led 49-43 with 5:36 remaining. Byrd broke a near 10 minute scoreless stretch with a running jumper in the paint at the 4:50 mark. He would score the Mules next nine points, capped by a three that cut it to two with 2:19 left. A steal and breakaway basket by senior guard Joe Young on the next possession tied it at 54 with 1:38 left.
WU senior forward Lekheythan Malone hit a big three with 1:09 left, and guard James Williams gave the Ichabods a four-point cushion by hitting 1-of-2 from the line with 40 seconds left. Byrd was fouled on a three-point attempt with 23 second remaining though, and he hit all three free throws to cut it to one. UCM quickly fouled the Ichabods, but they missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and UCM had the ball with 21 seconds remaining. Byrd drew another foul with six seconds left, and hit the first of two to tie it at 58. The second one missed, but the rebound went off the Ichabods and out of bounds with four seconds left to give UCM a chance for the win. Byrd’s jumper was off the mark though, and the game went to overtime.
Central Missouri took a 64-63 lead in the extra period on a jumper by Josiah Miller, spurring an 8-0 run that put the Mules ahead 70-63 with 16 seconds left. The Ichabods hit a couple late threes but UCM used 8-of-10 shooting from the line to seal the win.
story courtesy of UCM athletics
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