The No. 4 University of Central Missouri Mules led the entire game, but Pittsburg State stayed right with them as they pulled out a 72-61 win in their first game back at the Multipurpose Building in two weeks.

Before the contest, head coach Kim Anderson honored Pittsburg State head coach Gene Iba in his last game in Warrensburg as he will retire at year’s end. Iba gave Anderson his first full-time coaching job at Baylor, where they coached together for six years.

Central Missouri (19-1, 12-1 MIAA) jumped out to an early 12-2 lead in the game, thanks to nine points from the three Mule seniors, but PSU (7-13, 1-12 MIAA) crept back in a slow-moving first half to make it 14-9 with 7:45 to play. The action didn’t pick up until just less than four minutes remained as a C.J. Masters layup cut it to 18-14. The Mules answered with a 9-3 rally, highlighted by four points from senior guard Alex Moosmann to make it 27-17 with 1:35 left. UCM went into the break with a 29-21 advantage.

Moosmann put up a game-high 12 in the half as the Mules put up an impressive defensive effort, holding the Gorillas to only 25 percent from the floor, and out-rebounded them 20-15. The Mules offense was disrupted as well with nine first-half turnovers though.

Sanijay Watts got going in the second stanza, helping the Mules build a 15-point lead with 12:35 remaining. The Gorillas would get no closer than seven the rest of the way.

UCM shot 59.1 percent in the period, and Watts was the catalyst, scoring 14 and pulling down seven boards. The Mules used another impressive effort on the boards as well, taking an 18-12 advantage.

For the game the Mules hit 52.3 percent, while holding PSU to only 36.1 percent. The Mules turned it over 16 times to the Gorillas’ eight, but the 38-27 rebound edge helped them seal the win.

Watts finished 8-of-10 from the floor for 22 points and a career-high 15 boards. Moosmann tallied 16, and Ryan Harris had 15 in the contest, while Tremaine Luellen had a game-high seven assists.

UCM also got some good news following the game as Fort Hays State lost to Northwest Missouri, giving them a half-game lead for first-place in the MIAA. The Mules will host Emporia State on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m

Story courtesy of Mules athletics.