Central Missouri advances to title game

The Central Missouri Mules are going to the NCAA Division II national championship game.

T.J. White’s layup with a second remaining handed Central Missouri a 71-69 victory against No. 1 Metro State in the national semifinals Thursday night in Evansville, Ind.

The Mules are coached by former Missouri Tiger Kim Anderson. Central Missouri (29-5) will play West Liberty (31-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday (KRCG-TV) for the national title. It’s the second time in program history the Mules will play for the championship. Central Missouri State won the title in 1984.

Charles Hammork paced four Mules in double figures with 14 points, while grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds. Daylen Robinson tallied 13 points, Dillon Deck added 12 and White had 11.

Brandon Jefferson led Metro State with 21 points on 4-of-17 shooting, while Nicholas Kay added 17 points on 6-of-20 shooting. Mitch McCarron had 13 points.

It was a pretty even first half until Central Missouri used a late 11-4 run to go up 37-28. The Mules led 42-34 at halftime.

Central Missouri took its largest lead of the game at 48-37 with 17:41 left in the game on a jumper from Robinson.

With the Mules up 58-49 with 9:54 to go, Metro State began its run. A 13-4 surge tied the game at 62 with 3:41 remaining.

It was tied three more times down the stretch, but Central Missouri never trailed during that period.

McCarron hit a pair of free throws with seven seconds left to tie the game at 69. That’s when White scored the game-winner on a pass from Robinson with one second left. A desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer from McCarron was no good.

Metro State ends its season at 32-2.

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