The Central Missouri Mules  celebrate their NCAA D-II men's basketball championship

The Central Missouri Mules celebrate their NCAA D-II men’s basketball championship

On the 30th anniversary of their first NCAA Division II men’s basketball championship, the Central Missouri Mules defeated West Liberty, 84-77, this afternoon in Evansville, IN.

The Mules overcame a nine-point deficit in the first half, to claim the program’s second national title in men’s basketball.

AUDIO Listen to highlights of the final 30 seconds from Greg Hassler of the Mules Radio Network

In a game that featured 12-ties, Central Missouri took a 68-65 lead with 7:01 to go on a three-pointer from Daylen Robinson. After West Liberty tied it, Robinson came through again with 5:31 to play, by hitting his third three-pointer of the half, giving the Mules a 71-68 lead.  West Liberty never tied the game from that point on.

The Hilltoppers went the final 3:47 of the game, with just one basket, that coming in the final seconds, after the game was decided. Dillon Deck hit two free throws to put UCM up 80-75.  West Liberty missed a jumper and were unable to foul, Charles Hammrock threw a baseball style pass up the floor to T.J. White who assisted to Robinson for lay up to push the lead to 82-75 with 18 seconds to go. Needing to get the ball up the floor quickly, the Hilltoppers turned the ball over on a steal by Hammrock who fed it to White who scored the team’s final points for the second consecutive game, blowing the game open and clinching the Mules national title.

Robinson finished with 21 points, Deck 16 and Jordan Epps with 11. The Mules shot 44% for the game and made 11 of 21 from three-point range.

Central Missouri also held West Liberty to 23 points below their season average. The Hilltoppers averaged 100 points per game this season, and were just 8 of 29 from three-point range.