Senior forward Sanijay Watts made a Player of the Year statement in front of 6,210 opposing fans on Saturday evening at No. 10 Fort Hays State, scoring 30 points and pulling down a career-high 17 rebounds in a 79-63 victory that put No. 3 Central Missouri up two games in the conference standings.
The UCM win also tied the MIAA record for road wins at 8-0, and it came in front of the largest D-II road crowd since 1991 in the Show-Me Center at Southeast Missouri State (7,000).
Central Missouri (22-1, 15-1 MIAA) came out and shut down Fort Hays State (19-4, 13-3 MIAA) in the first 10 minutes, jumping out to an 18-3 lead. The Mules held the Tigers without a field goal until the 10:45 mark. FHSU crept back in though, cutting it to seven with 6:06 left and down to as little as three with 1:50 remaining. An Alex Moosmann jumper with two seconds left gave the Mules a six-point edge heading into the intermission at 36-30.
The Central Missouri defense held the Tigers to only 34.5 percent from the floor, and UCM hit 50 percent. Senior forward Sanijay Watts led all scorers with 12, while pulling down nine boards. Fort Hays shot eight more free throws and had five fewer turnovers, but the Mules had a 22-14 rebound edge.
The Mules put the pressure on from the start in the second stanza, pushing their lead to 10 on a Manny Richardson layup with 16:43 left. The Tigers had only one more run in them, cutting it to 49-43 with 14:02 remaining but Watts countered with six straight points to put UCM ahead by double-digits for good. The margin would get to as many as 18 with 1:38 on the clock. The Mules led from start to finish in the contest.
Along with Watts, there were two other Mules in double-figures with junior guard Ryan Harris at 14 (11 in the second half) and Moosmann at 13. Watts 17 rebounds was the most for a Mule in the tenure of head coach Kim Anderson.
The Mules will be back home for a battle with Nebraska-Omaha on Wednesday night at the Multi for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. Story courtesy of Mules athletics.