The No. 4 Central Missouri Mules basketball squad trailed the entire game and became the third consecutive No. 1 seed to lose in the first round of the MIAA Tournament on Friday, falling 79-60 to eighth-seeded Washburn.
Central Missouri (25-3) started the game ice-cold from the floor and fell behind by 29-11 in the first 14 minutes. The Mules had a mini-run late in the half to cut it to as little as eight at the 51 second mark, but a Logan Stutz layup made it a 36-26 lead going into the break.
The Ichabods (15-13) hit the glass for a 20-15 rebound edge in the period while drilling 55.6 percent of their shots. The Mules could only hit 35.5 percent in the period, thanks to a strong defensive effort from WU.
The Mules cut it to seven on the first possession of the second stanza, but the Ichabods answered with a 5-0 run, capped by a three-pointer from senior De’Andre Washington. He and Stutz put on an offensive show for WU, scoring 19 and 15, respectively, in the game. Washington was also 4-of-6 from three-point range while Stutz hit 6-of-8 in the outing.
WU built its lead to as many as 18 by the 9:46 mark, but the Mules never gave up, cutting it back to eight with 5:08 to play on a bucket and foul shot from junior Nate Fuqua. He was the spark for the Mules in the half, scoring all 14 of his points in the final half. That was as close as the Mules would get though. Washburn hit most of its free throws down the stretch and got its lead to as many as 20 before the final buzzer.
Perhaps the biggest difference was the job the Ichabods did on Sanijay Watts, holding the MIAA Player of the Year to only eight points, the first single-digit game of the season for him. He didn’t even play the final 10 minutes of the game.
UCM finished hitting 33.9 percent in the game, while the Ichabods hit for a 49.0 percent clip. There was also a 45-33 rebound edge for WU.
Fuqua’s 14 led the Mules, while Alex Moosmann had 12, and Bryce Brunz put up 13.
Central Missouri will find out its seed in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. during the NCAA selection show.