Missouri wheelchair basketball sweeps Kansas Wheelhawks

Last season, MU and KU split victories against each other.

Senior John Gilbert reaches to grab a loose ball during the first game against Kansas on Saturday at the Student Recreation Complex. MU beat Kansas 44-43 after a winning shot in the last minute of the game.

Playing against rival Kansas Wheelhawks, the Missouri wheelchair basketball team won two games Saturday at the Student Recreational Complex.

In the first game, the Tigers and Wheelhawks traded baskets in the first half, with the Wheelhawks taking a 20-18 lead into halftime.

Neither team lead by more than four points.

Both teams continued to trade baskets in the second half before the Wheelhawks went on an 8-2 run to improve their lead from 33-30 to 41-32 with four minutes remaining.

But the Tigers responded with an 11-0 run.

Throughout that run, Missouri sent three different Wheelhawks to the free throw line, and none of them made a single free throw.

Junior guard Casey Adams, who came into the game for senior guard Justin Siebert, scored six points during the run.

Senior guard John Gilbert said Adams gave the team some much-needed points coming off the bench.

"Casey Adams came up big," coach Ron Lykins said. "He wasn't afraid to shoot."

The final basket of the game fell when freshman forward Jake Wiig put back a missed shot by freshman Connor Downes with 4.7 seconds remaining. Kansas did not score, and the Tigers won 44-43.

"It felt really good," Wiig said. "Last year they beat us at the last second by one, and we were able to do that today."

In the second game, Missouri kept the momentum going by jumping out to an early lead and building a 24-16 lead at halftime.

Kansas made a late surge, but the Tigers held on to win 57-49.

Lykins said the change in strategy between games was simple.

"We pressed the whole time," Lykins said. "It worked really well at some times and not as well at other times."

With the two victories, Missouri moves to 7-3 on the season heading into the tournament in two weeks.

Lykins said the wins would give them some momentum going into the tournament.

"It means a lot," Lykins said of his players. "They are very good and playing against good teams will make us better."

Gilbert said Kansas is one of the premier teams in the Championship League.

"They are right at the top, and they had our number in the past, so it was big to beat them," Gilbert said.

Missouri and Kansas split when they played each other last season.

The Pittsburg State Gorilla Invitational is the last tournament of 2009 for the Tigers and will be played Dec. 19 and Dec. 20. Missouri will play four more tournaments this season after the invitational.

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