KANSAS CITY — Despite leading by six points with 30 seconds remaining in regulation, Mules basketball fell in overtime 73-70 to Sioux Falls Monday at the MIAA Challenge at Municipal Auditorium.
The Mules led 57-51 with 30 seconds remaining in regulation, but a combination of stellar three-pointers from Cougars guard Trevon Evans and missed free throws by the Mules gave Sioux Falls one final shot down 59-57. Cougars guard Chase Grinde took the last shot; he missed his initial attempt, grabbed his own rebound and tied the game with less than a second left to send the game to overtime.
The Mules had opportunities to put the Cougars away in the extra frame and held a 70-68 lead in the final minute. Three turnovers by the Mules allowed the Cougars to score five unanswered points to seal the win.
“We played a really good NCAA tournament-type team, had them on the ropes. We just didn’t knock them out when we had the opportunity,” Mules head coach Doug Karleskint said.
Both teams struggled on offense in the first half. The Mules opened a 7-0 lead before going on a five-minute scoring drought. The Cougars failed to get on the board until five minutes into the game but caught fire and went on a 20-3 scoring run to lead 20-10 with four minutes remaining in the first half.
“I think both teams were just really ready to play,” Karleskint said. “Two teams that prepared really well for each other and it was tough getting a crease to the basket, it was tough getting an open look because both teams were playing so hard.”
Out of a timeout, the Mules began cutting into the Cougars lead. Senior guard Jafar Kinsey and junior forward Brandon Emmert each contributed four points to a 13-4 run that brought the Mules within one point at halftime, 24-23.
Sioux Falls had the better of the Mules for the majority of the second half, leading 51-45 with less than six minutes left. An 8-0 Mules run capped by a transition layup from sophomore Daniel Farris gave the Mules a 53-51 lead.
From there it was all Evans. The Cougars star finished with a game-high 28 points and is averaging 24.3 points per game.
“(Trevon) Evans was absolutely tremendous,” Karleskint said. “I don’t know how he even got some of those threes off there late.”
Farris picked up a career-high 15 points in the loss. He was all over the scoresheet, adding four rebounds, three assists and three steals to his line.
“The moment is never too big for him,” Karleskint said. “He’s going to be a great player for us and I know he works his tail off every single day to be the best player he can.”
Sophomore guard Michael Winger logged a career-high 21 minutes and made the most of them, contributing another career-high with 10 points. Winger shot 3-7 from long range before fouling out in the last minute of overtime.
“(Winger) is an unbelievable shooter and he has stayed positive even though he hasn’t really played in the last several games,” Karleskint said. “That’s so key for our guys. You never know when it’s going to be your shot.”
The Mules felt the absence of senior forward Jakob Lowrance who suffered a leg injury Saturday. They were outrebounded by the Cougars 54-43 and 21-13 on the offensive glass.
At 4-1, the Mules will head to St. Louis to compete in the UMSL Thanksgiving Classic Friday and Saturday. They will take on Maryville and the University of Missouri – St. Louis in the two-day tournament.
Tipoff between the Mules and Maryville is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday. The matchup with UMSL is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday. Both games will be played at the Mark Twain Building in St. Louis. Both games will be broadcasted on 1450 KOKO and 98.5 The Bar or at warrensburgradio.com by Dan Swoboda.