The sixth-ranked Central Missouri Mules came back from a 12-point second-half deficit to advance to the semifinal round of the NCAA Division II Elite Eight Men's Basketball Championship and defeat No. 5 Gannon (Pa.), 86-77, Wednesday evening (March 25) at the MassMutual Center.

The sixth-ranked Central Missouri Mules came back from a 12-point second-half deficit to advance to the semifinal round of the NCAA Division II Elite Eight Men's Basketball Championship and defeat No. 5 Gannon (Pa.), 86-77, Wednesday evening (March 25) at the MassMutual Center.


The Mules (30-4, 16-4 MIAA) came back from their largest deficit of the season to make the round of four, where UCM will face top-ranked Findlay (Ohio) Thursday night (March 26) at 7:30 p.m., CDT. The Oilers (34-0) needed overtime for an 89-79 win over previously unbeaten Long Island (N.Y.)-C.W. Post.


Thursday night's game for the Mules will be broadcast by CBS College Sports Television, with the broadcast feed also available on KMOS-TV, Missouri PBS.


The 30 wins are the second-most in a single season in Central Missouri history.


Junior F Sanijay Watts scored 21 points and senior G De'Andre Byrd finished with 20 points to lead the Mules, who had five players score in double figures. Junior G Alex Moosmann scored 13 points and senior G Joe Young added 12 -- all coming after being blanked in the first half.


The Mules were up by five, 30-25, with 6:39 left in the opening half after scoring nine straight points, then the Golden Knights (30-4) answered back with an 11-0 run to take its largest lead of the half with 1:56 to go. Gannon would lead at the break, 38-32.


GU scored nine of the second half's first 14 points to extend the advantage to 49-37 with 16:18 left. It was 57-45 with 12:00 remaining when the Mules made their comeback.


UCM sank five in a row from three-point range -- including a pair from Young -- during an 18-7 run outburst which put the gap at one, 64-63 with 6:41 left. The Golden Knights held off the first rush from the Mules, and pushed their lead back to four, 68-64, with 5:51 on the clock.


The Mules, who shot 16-of-24 from the field (66.7 percent) in the second half, surged again with an 11-5 spurt during which they made 5-of-7 from the floor. Watts' bucket with 3:00 left put UCM up for good, 72-70, and the Mules had a 76-73 lead with 1:38 to go.


Central Missouri secured the win by going 10-for-10 from the foul line in the last 90 seconds.


Joe Lindsey scored 18 points and had six assists to lead Gannon, while Kyle Goldkamp added 15 points for the Golden Knights.