The No. 8 Central Missouri Mules basketball squad accomplished something no other team has ever done on Sunday, winning their third consecutive MIAA Tournament game in overtime, this time over the Missouri Western Griffons, 86-84.
It is the third conference tournament title in the last five seasons for the Mules (26-4), and fifth overall, putting them alone at the top among MIAA schools.
The Mules led by three with 1:19 left in the overtime period, but the Griffons (14-16) cut it to 85-84 on a layup by Lonnel Johnson with 33 seconds remaining. MWSU, who was the No. 8 seed in the tourney, fouled senior De’Andre Byrd with 24 seconds left, and he hit the second of two free throws to give the Mules a two-point cushion. The Griffons could only manage to get off a guarded three-pointer from the top of the key for the win, but it was way short and UCM secured the rebound and ran out the clock.
There were five ties and four lead changes in the opening period before the second-seeded Mules made a 12-4 run, highlighted by five points each from Byrd and junior Tremaine Luellen, to make it 30-23 with 5:31 left. The Griffons closed it to one with 2:03 left, but back-to-back buckets from Luellen and senior Joe Young helped the Mules take a 40-35 lead into the break.
Luellen had 12 while Young tallied 11 points in the period. Central Missouri used 7-of-10 shooting from three-point land in the half to get the lead.
The Griffons came out swinging in the second stanza, taking their first lead at the 17:23 mark. They stretched that advantage to five on a couple occasions but the Mules got a big momentum shift with 11:23 to go when Josiah Miller had a monstrous dunk, and a foul shot, to cut it to a couple. Luellen followed that with back-to-back three-pointers to put UCM back ahead. There would be 12 lead changes and seven ties in the period. A Luellen fastbreak layup off a steal by Byrd with 41 seconds left put UCM up by two, but the Griffons’ Dominique Thuston drew a foul on an offensive rebound, and drilled both free tosses to tie it with 22 seconds left. UCM could only get off a guarded three at the buzzer that missed short.
Luellen finished with a season-high 24 points, while Young put up a season-best 26 points in the win. Both earned All-Tournament team honors along with Byrd. Young was named the MIAA Tournament MVP as well.
story courtesy of UCM athletics