KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Seventh seeded Pittsburg State battled back from a 10-point second-half deficit against No. 2 seed Central Missouri but couldn't overcome the MIAA co-champion Mules late falling 69-63 in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Tournament Thursday (Mar. 7) at Municipal Auditorium.
UCM (20-7) advances to the MIAA Tournament semifinals Saturday (Mar. 9) to face the winner of a Thursday night match-up between No. 3 Washburn and No. 6 Central Oklahoma. Pitt State ends its season with an 18-10 record.
The Mules rattled off eight straight points to break open a 44-44 game. UCM twice pushed its lead to 10 points, the final time at 59-49 with 7:29 to play in the game.
The Gorillas responded with an 8-0 run to get within two points, 59-57, on two free throws by Kaleb Porter with 5:09 to go.
A minute later Matt Webb hit a long 3-pointer to give the Mules a 62-57 edge.
Pitt State clawed back within two points, at 63-61, on JaVon McGee's jumper with 2:06 to play. The Gorillas forced a UCM miss but Charles Hammork stole an errant pass and his breakaway dunk pushed the Mules lead to 65-61 with 1:24 to go.
Neither team scored again until Courtney Ingram tipped in a missed shot for the Gorillas to make it 65-63 with 15 seconds remaining.
Following a Pitt State foul, Dominique Long then made two free throws with 14 seconds to go, and following Ethan Cordray's missed 3-pointer, Hammork made two more free throws with six seconds remaining to the game's final margin.
McGee led all scorers with 22 points, finishing his collegiate career with 1,113 points. He added a game-high 11 rebounds to close out his career with 716 boards.
AJ Adams, Jake Bullard and Porter all chipped in with 11 points apiece.
Webb led four UCM players in double figures with 15 points. Alex Dean and Widgett Washington added 12 apiece, while Hammork chipped in with 11.