The No. 1 Central Missouri Mules defense came to life in an 85-37 win over Missouri Baptist on Tuesday night in their final tune-up before the Las Vegas High Desert Classic. Central Missouri (8-0) held an opponent to its lowest total since a 38-37 win over Lincoln in 1984. Earlier in that national title season, the Mules held UMKC to 24 points.
The Mules jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the early going before the Spartans (7-6) came back and cut it to 10-8 by the 12:50 mark. A three-pointer by Bryce Brunz sparked a 14-0 run, capped by a layup from Alex Moosmann in transition. The two squads would battle back and forth after that with the Mules taking a 33-17 lead into the intermission.
Central Missouri held the Spartans to 28.6 percent shooting, while hitting 42.3 percent on offense. The Mules also had a 19-to-12 advantage on the glass. Sanijay Watts led the way for UCM in the period, tallying 12 points.
The Mules came out and expanded that lead to 32 by the 8:29 mark on back-to-back threes from Brunz, and pushed it to 42 on a lay-up by Matt Killen with 3:59 remaining. Rico Combs was the story in the final period though, tallying 15 points and pulling down six boards.
The biggest margin of the season to that point was 35, but the Mules surpassed that with nearly seven minutes to play.
Central Missouri out-rebounded the Spartans 49-to-22 in the contest, and held them to only 25.9 percent from the field. In the second half the Mules shot 60 percent and finished the contest with a 52.5 percent clip.
Combs finished with a game and career-high 17 points, while Watts had 14 in 23 minutes. Brunz had 11 and Moosmann finished with 10 to go with his eight assists and no turnovers. Junior forward Manny Richardson led the glass effort with nine boards to go with his three blocks.
The Mules will battle No. 7 Rollins College (Fla.) on Friday at 4:30 p.m. (CST) in the Las Vegas High Desert Classic.
Story courtesy of Central Missouri Athletics.