WARRENSBURG — Scoring lulls and rebounding woes cost Central Missouri in its season-opening 62-58 loss to Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Multi.
The Mules were out-rebounded 44 to 27 and gave up 17 offensive boards to the Mustangs while scoring six points in an eight minute, 10 second long stretch at the heart of the second half that saw Southwest Minnesota overtake the Mules halftime lead.
“As a whole game, I didn’t think we showed up as far as what we’ve been practicing and what we showed at Mizzou,” Central Missouri coach Doug Karleskint said. “It’s just a disappointing way to open up and I know we are a lot better than what we showed tonight.”
Central Missouri led by seven, 27-20, after Gavin Pinkley opened the second half with a 3-pointer as part of his 13 points on the night.
The Mules maintained their cushion up to the 15:30 mark with Pinkley adding his second deep ball of the night to make it 38-32 in favor of UCM.
The Mules stalled out at 38 points while the Mustangs put together a 10-0 run over 3:28 to take their first lead at 42-38.
Transfer Kendale Hampton ended the run with a jumper and a pair of free throws by Pinkley kept the deficit at one, 43-42.
The next scoring lull only saw the Mustangs extend its lead to 47-42, but ate up another 3:28 off the clock and put the Mules in a hole.
“I think it was a lot of the blend of new guys mixing with some old guys,” Karleskint said on the offensive stagnation. “We were just thinking so much. You could just tell the wheels were turning instead of just flowing in the offense. We were just thinking, thinking, thinking, and it cost us because we had a lot of bad possessions.”
Hampton scored the next seven points for UCM to get the Mules back within one, 50-49, with 6:32 left.
The transfer from Youngstown State, who finished with a team-high 23 points and five rebounds, knocked down a pair of free throws to tie the game at 55-55 with 2:56 remaining.
Southwest Minnesota put together one final run, holding UCM to just three points over the final three minutes — a 3-pointer by Hampton with 14 seconds left — while embarking on a 7-0 run.
The Mules turned the ball over on three-straight possessions after getting the game back to a tie, allowing the Mustangs to seal off the win.
Southwest Minnesota turned its 17 offensive boards into 18 points while UCM had just four second chance points.
“It’s a physicality thing,” Karleskint said. “Obviously, they have some girth on us. We knew going in that we’d have to have our guards scrap out some boards. Gavin isn’t the biggest guy, so we have to have so much help from our guards and I thought they were watching so much and just had a total lack of effort in the boards and taking pride in boards.”
Central Missouri shot 37.5% (20 of 58) from the field, but were held to just 10 made baskets in both halves.
“It definitely looked like a season-opener,” Karleskint said.
The Mules came out of the gate strong, jumping out to a 12-2 lead, what would stand as their largest of the night, in the opening five minutes of action.
The Mustangs whittled the lead down to one, 19-18, with less than five minutes to play in the half, but a 3-pointer from Daniel Farris allowed the Mules to maintain its wire-to-wire first half lead, going into the break up 24-20.
Central Missouri went played 10 players with eight seeing 13 minutes or more. Farris finished as the third leading scorer with eight points while dishing out four assists.
The Mules fell to 0-2 to start the season after a 76-72 loss to Augustana (RV) on Sunday, Nov. 10.
Pinkley scored a game-high 21 points with Hampton adding 20.
Central Missouri will stay in Warrensburg this weekend, hosting the annual Fairfield Inn Classic. The Mules will take on Upper Iowa at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16, then face William Jewell at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17.