By Patrick Cooley, Sports Editor
Mitch Albers sank a 55-foot half-court shot as time expired and UNO escaped Warrensburg, Mo. with an 81-79 victory over the Central Missouri Mules on Saturday night.
Albers finished with a season-high 26 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He was 6-for-7 from the free-throw line and 2-for-5 from 3-point range, including his game winner.
The 6-foot-4 Papillion, Neb. native led the Mavs in scoring for the fifth consecutive game. Through the Mavs’ first six games of the season, the junior guard averaged nine points per contest and the Mavs were just 3-3. The last five games, Albers has averaged 23.6 points per game, leading the Mavs to a 5-0 mark.
Senior guard Tyler Bullock added 16 points and five rebounds and matched his career high with eight assists. Sophomore forward Alex Welhouse chipped in 14 points, including four three-pointers. Senior guard Torrian Harris led the Mavs in rebounding. Harris pulled down six rebounds in addition to his eight points and two blocks.
“I thought we battled through adversity right down to the buzzer,” said UNO head coach Derrin Hansen in a Jan. 8 press release. “We hung together as a team, which is good to see. We were obviously fortunate to get Mitch’s last-second shot, but it was a very exciting game to the end.”
UNO shot 53 percent as a team on the night, including 62 percent in the first-half. That hot shooting helped them jump out to a 19-8 lead, which they held the entire half. The Mavs led by as much as 14 points, though a 10-0 run by the Mules cut the UNO lead to five at halftime.
The Mules took their first lead of the game with 15 minutes remaining and increased it to seven when senior guard Tyrone Young made a three-pointer to give ucm a 65-58 lead. Albers tied the game on a layup with 1:06 remaining making the score 78-all, but UCM junior guard Reggie Stallings gave his team a 79-78 lead on his first free throw with one second left in the game.
Stallings then intentionally missed his second free throw attempt, but the Mavs grabbed the rebound and called a timeout with 0.8 seconds remaining. Following the timeout, Albers took the inbounds pass, dribbled once and launched a shot from behind the half-court line. the ball banked off the backboard and went in for the 81-79 victory.
Central Missouri was led by junior guard Boo Hunter’s 21 points including 7-for-8 shooting from the free-throw line and nine rebounds.
With the win, the Mavs move to 8-4 (5-3 MIAA) on the season, while the Mules drop to 8-6 (3-5 MIAA).
UNO will be back in action Wednesday as they host Southwest Baptist (7-7, 4-4 MIAA) in a 7:30 p.m. contest at Sapp Fieldhouse.