By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
WARRENSBURG, Mo. -- The Quincy University men's basketball team dared Central Missouri to shoot outside jumpers Wednesday night.
The Mules rose to the challenge.
Facing packed-in zone defenses from QU for most of the night, Central Missouri made 11 of 25 3-point attempts en route to a 77-59 non-conference win at the Multipurpose Building.
"Really, they just made shots," QU senior guard Ryan Stuckman said. "That's all it boils down to. They took the shots we wanted them to take. We executed our defensive gameplan pretty well I think. They just knocked down shots."
The Mules (4-1) came into the contest having made only 17 of 61 (27.9 percent) of their 3-point attempts. That included a 1-of-14 performance in a season-opening win against Webster, which played primarily zone.
Thus, the Hawks relied on 1-3-1 and 2-3 zone defenses to contain the Mules' quick, penetration-oriented guards and accepted the risk of giving them some open looks from the perimeter.
"They really, really can create," QU senior forward Tyler Thompson said. "All of them are a lot of one-on-one players that can create and are dangerous if you crowd them. So, ... we would rather (limit) their strength and make them prove they could shoot, and they did."
QU (2-2) tied the game at 12 on Chris Babbit's conventional three-point play with 10 minutes, 37 seconds remaining before halftime.
That's when Central Missouri showed its ability to score in bunches, as the Mules responded with a 14-0 run spanning 3:39.
Their lead never dipped below 10 points after that run, and they took a 36-22 lead into halftime.
"They score in spurts, and we know they do," QU coach Marty Bell said. "But what was happening was, we were missing and we weren't getting back in transition as well as we could have. And that's where they had the flurry where they made some shots."
Central Missouri's reserves scored 10 points during the 14-0 run, and that included 3-pointers from Ryan Magdziarz and Reggie Stallings.
"Everybody looks at the stats from the Webster game," Mules coach Kim Anderson said. "But we have good shooters. We just have to get them into the game."
Overall, Central Missouri's bench outscored QU's 39-19, and the Mules' reserves combined to shoot 9 of 16 (56.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
D.J. Slifer was 4 of 5 from 3-point range off the bench and was one of three Central Missouri players with a team-high 12 points. Stallings and Dominique Long also had a dozen points each.
Central Missouri traditionally plays man-to-man defense, but it countered QU's zone with plenty of a 2-3 zone of its own.
QU missed 23 of its first 29 field-goal attempts, a stretch that included eight misses in nine attempts from beyond the arc.
"They sped us up (with their zone)," Thompson said. "We didn't take our time, show patience and look for what was open. We kind of forced it a little bit.
"We didn't use as much pass fake. We kind of just drove and put our head down, which didn't work out for us."
Anderson said QU's flex-based offense is fairly similar to the offense Upper Iowa ran when the Mules beat them 74-67 on Sunday.
Central Missouri switched from man defense to a zone against Upper Iowa, and that sparked a 23-0 run, so Anderson elected for the same maneuver early in the first half against QU.
"(With a zone), you have to guard all the other stuff, but you don't have to guard all that (flex-cut movement)," Anderson said.
Even when the Hawks did find open looks in the first half and early minutes in the second half, their shots often spun out of the cylinder.
"We got open shots, they just didn't go in. Sometimes that's going to happen," Bell said.
The Hawks heated up in the final 14 minutes of the game, and that helped them cut into a deficit that was 22 points at one point in the second half.
QU wound up making 7 of 21 3-point attempts and shot 34 percent overall. Thompson led QU with 13 points, and Grant Meyer had 11 points and a game-high seven assists.
Wednesday's game was the second in a span of three straight games for QU that count toward its in-region record. The loss to Central Missouri combined with a win last week over Truman State puts the Hawks 1-1 in those contests, with Saturday's game at Pepsi Arena against Lindenwood (Mo.) still to come.
"Our goal is two out of three, so this makes Saturday that much more important," Stuckman said.