Bonus Points Help No. 9-Tigers Edge Eastern Michigan 18-15
COLUMBIA - A day removed from a 41-0 win over Buffalo at the annual Beauty and the Beast event, the Tigers improved to 8-2 on the season and 5-1 in MAC competition with an 18-15 victory over Eastern Michigan. The two programs each won five of 10 matches on the afternoon, with bonus point victories from Lavion Mayes and Drake Houdashelt proving to be the difference. Heavyweight Devin Mellon won a 5-2 decision over EMU's Khodar Hoballah to power Mizzou past the Eagles in the final bout of the afternoon.
For the second time in as many weeks, Mizzou found themselves tied at 15-a-piece with Devin Mellon left to wrestle. Once again, Mellon answered the call with a 5-2 decision over Eastern Michigan's Khodar Hoballah. Mellon started the second period down and managed to shake Hoballah off the top for a reversal to take a 2-0 lead, one he would never relinquish. Mizzou's junior heavyweight rode his counterpart tough in the third to lock up over a minute of riding time, and added a late takedown for a 5-2 victory. Mellon topped Oklahoma's No. 16 Ross Larson last week to lead Mizzou to an 18-15 win over No. 6 Oklahoma.
"Devin (Mellon) showed great composure today. His opponent wasn't wrestling as aggressive as we expected and was trying to steal a win, and Devin just stuck with the game plan," said Head Coach Brian Smith. "(Hoballah) was hit for stalling early, and once he locked up riding time it changes the whole match. It forced him to take a bad shot and then Devin got that easy takedown at the end. He wrestled a good tactical match, which is tough to do in that situation. But he kept his composure and stuck to his game plan."
Mayes, tabbed at No. 19 in the nation at 141 pounds, put the Tigers on the board first. Mizzou's redshirt freshman put together an eight-point third period which included athree-point nearfall with less than 30 seconds remaining. His victory was his sixth major decision of the season. Mayes continues to impress in his firstyear as a starter, and looks to climb in the conference rankings next weekend when he is slated to face Old Dominion's No. 5 Chris Mecate.
Top-ranked 149-pounder Drake Houdashelt followed Mayes with a bonus point victory of his own in an 18-3 technical fall over Mike LeHolm. Houdashelt followed up an eight-takedown performance Friday night with six more on Saturday. His takedown at 5:42 into the bout increased his lead to 15 points, ending the match by technical fall.
True freshmen Joey Lavallee and J'den Cox both picked up decisions over their counterparts as well, at 157 and 197 pounds respectively.
Mizzou's victory on Saturday was Smith's 199th win as a NCAA wrestling head coach. Smith boasts a 197-90-3 record in his 16th year at the helm.
The Tigers will be back in action next Sunday, February 16, when they face the Old Dominion Monarchs. The Tigers made history last time out against Old Dominion, defeating the Monarchs 35 to negative-1 on opening weekend last year. The duel is slated to begin at 1p.m. from the Hearnes Center.