Nebraska-Omaha junior guard Mitch Albers hit a 55-foot buzzer-beater to defeat the Central Missouri Mules 81-79 on Saturday at the UCM Multipurpose Building. With 0.8 seconds remaining, he caught the in-bounds pass, took a dribble, and then heaved it in off the backboard for the win.
The Mules took the lead, 79-78, with 1.1 seconds left on a free throw from junior guard Reggie Stallings. He missed the second shot, UNO rebounded it and called a timeout with 0.3 seconds left, but the officials reset the clock to 0.8 to set the scene for the final play.
Central Missouri (8-6, 3-5 MIAA) had to play catch-up in the opening half after Nebraska-Omaha (8-4, 5-3 MIAA) jumped out to a 23-9 lead in the first 7:28. The quick start was fueled by senior guard Tyler Bullock, who had eight points and two assists during the rally.
Central Missouri started to chip away with just more than five minutes to play, going on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to only 38-32, thanks to four points from junior guard Boo Hunter.
Nebraska-Omaha quickly moved the lead back to 13 thanks to a 7-0 spurt with 2:38 remaining, but Central Missouri scored the next 10 points in only a 1:40 span to make it 45-42 with 41 seconds left. Albers hit a couple free throws with six seconds left to take a five-point lead into the break.
Both teams were on fire in the opening half, with UNO hitting 62.1 percent, and the Mules drilling 51.6 percent. Hunter led UCM with 12, while Ryan Harris had 11. Bullock had 10 for the Mavs, while Albers hit for 13. It was the most points UCM had given up in a half all year.
The Mules rallied in the second stanza, chiseling the margin down to one with 16:28 left, before finally taking their first lead with 14:56 left on a jumper by Hunter. Five more points on a three from Bryce Brunz followed by a jumper from Tyrone Young gave the Mules a 61-55 lead.
UCM held that lead, and pushed it to as many as seven with 11:04 on the clock. It took only two minutes for the Mavs to tie it up at 65, but UCM took the lead back and held it until the 2:13 mark, when UNO tied it up at 76 on an Albers jumper.
After both teams traded buckets, UNO got the ball back with the score tied at 78 with only 27 seconds left. Bullock drove the lane with two seconds left, but his jumper was too strong. It bounced in the air for Stallings to get the rebound, but Bullock was called for a foul, going over his back with 1.1 remaining.
UNO finished shooting 52.6 percent in the game, while UCM hit 44.1 percent. Hunter led the Mules with 21 points and a career-high nine boards, while Brunz had 15, Young tallied 12, and Harris totaled 11. The Mavericks got 26 from Albers and 16 from Bullock, while Alex Welhouse scored 14. Bullock also dished out eight assists.
Central Missouri will head back out on the road for the next two games, starting with a game at Northwest Missouri on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.