(BOLIVAR, Mo.) – Mules basketball (18-6, 12-4 MIAA) jumped out to a 13-0 lead the first five minutes of the game and never looked back, coasting to a 108-91 win over the Southwest Baptist Bearcats (9-16, 7-10 MIAA) Saturday night at the Meyer Sports Center in Bolivar.
Matt Webb sank a jumper 37 seconds into the game to begin the Mules 13-0 run. Dominique Long and Widgett Washington sank a pair of three pointers followed by another Webb jumper to make it 10-0 at the 17:44 mark. Long added a free throw and a dunk with 17 minutes left in the opening stanza to give the Mules the 13 point advantage.
The Mules extended the run to 18-3 after Charles Hammork nailed a trey. The Bearcats began to chip away after that though, cutting the Mule advantage to just five at the 8:58 mark when Damion Hooks drove to the basket for a layup. The Mules answered, going on an 8-0 run ignited by another Webb jump shot to make it 36-23 with 6:41 remaining in the half.
UCM went into the locker room with a 52-37 lead after Long sank a fade-away jumper at the buzzer. Long led all scorers in the opening half, posting 15 points on 6-10 shooting, including a 2-3 performance from beyond-the-arc. Hooks led the Bearcats scoring efforts with 11 points.
As a team the Mules shot 51 percent from the field in the first half, going 21-41, and shot 7-10 from three for a blistering 70 percent. The Mules were just 3-7 at the free throw line for 43 percent.
The Bearcats shot 39 percent from the field in the stanza, making 12 of 31 attempted shots, and were only 4-9 from behind-the-arc for 44 percent. SBU was 9-12 from the charity stripe, good for 75 percent.
The Mules opened the second half with a 9-0 run in the first two minutes. Hammork led the charge, hitting two free throws followed by a dunk less than a minute into the half. Long sank another three and Lance Beckwith added a layup with 18:12 to go in the half to extend the UCM lead to 61-39. The Mules lead ballooned to 25 when Jon Gilliam nailed a trey with 11:44 on the clock. The Bearcats could not get the Mule advantage below 20 until 1:46 remaining in the second half after Preston Guiot hit a three to make it 106-87.
Long led five Mules in double figures, scoring a game-high 29 points while Hammork scored 13 points in the second half to finish with 17. Hammork also led the Mules rebounding effort with nine. Webb posted 13 points while Washington had 11 with a team-high six assists. Alex Dean rounded out the Mules in double-figures, scoring 10 points.
For the game, the Mules shot 55 percent from the field, making 41 of 75 attempts, and were 12-21 from three for 57 percent. They shot 70 percent from the foul line, going 14-20.
The Bearcats were 31-56 from the field for the game, 55 percent, and 10-18 from beyond-the-arc for 56 percent. Southwest Baptist went 76 percent from the free throw line, making 19 of 25 attempted.
The Mules owned the glass, out-rebounding the Bearcats 39-25. UCM had 23 assists to just seven turnovers in the contest while SBU turned the ball over 14 times and had 19 assists.
With the win, the Mules lock up a first round bye to Kansas City in the MIAA Postseason Tournament and remain in first place in the conference standings with just two games remaining.
The Mules return to the hardwood Wednesday night when they host the Truman Bulldogs for senior night at the UCM Multipurpose Building. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. with pregame on 1450 KOKO, 98.5 The Bar and www.warrensburgradio.com at about 7:05. 90.9 The Bridge will pick up the broadcast at tip-off. A pay-per-view, student -run, video webcast is also available through AmericaOneSports.com.