Flames grab comeback win in Horizon League opener

UIC vs Northwestern D'Juan Miller

D’Juan Miller (shown here vs. Northwestern) gave UIC its first lead of the game against Youngstown State Friday at the UIC Pavilion. Photo: Timothy Nguyen

 

The UIC men’s basketball team (5-11, 1-0 HL) used a 19-2 run late in the second half to claim a 77-71 comeback victory in the Horizon League opener against Youngstown State (9-7, 0-1 HL) Friday at home.

UIC will seek its third-straight win Sunday at home against Cleveland State. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.

The Flames outscored YSU, 49-34, in the second half as fifth-year senior Jay Harris led all scorers with 25 points, including 18 in the final period. Junior Jake Wiegand added 15 points and six rebounds.

“This team has so much heart,” said head coach Howard Moore. “When they put their minds to something there is nothing they can not accomplish. I am very proud of our effort in the second half. We battled on every possession and fought our way to a victory. In our minds we are 1-0 right now.”

The Penguins jumped out to a 29-11 lead by the 9:04 mark of the first half as they took advantage of six UIC turnovers in the opening minutes. UIC regained its composure and closed out the first period with a 17-8 run, cementing the 37-28 halftime score.

Youngstown State held a three-possession lead for most of the second half until UIC dropped the hammer with 6:38 left to play and down, 61-52. Junior Gabe Snider began the surge with his third three-pointer of the game, followed by a fast-break layup by Harris.

After a jumper by YSU’s Osandai Vaughn at the 5:18 mark, the Flames rattled off 14 straight points, including seven from Harris, in just over four minutes to grab a 71-63 lead.

UIC went 8-of-8 from the free throw line in the final 58 seconds as the team continues to be a top-20 foul-shooting team. The Flames finished the game by going 29-of-32 (90.6 percent) from the charity stripe.

From the 8:08 mark to under one minute left on the clock, the Flames’ defense held YSU to a mere five points. UIC forced the Penguins to commit eight second-half turnovers and converted those miscues into 13 points. YSU shot better than 58 percent in the first half but were limited to under 39 percent in the final 20 minutes.

Snider tied a career-high 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting from behind the arc, while senior Ahman Fells posted his second consecutive double-digit scoring performance with 11.

Senior Marc Brown and redshirt freshman Lance Whitaker tallied a game-high seven rebounds apiece, while Miller equaled a season-best with seven assists.

The Flames outrebounded YSU by a margin of 42-28 and grabbed 17 offensive boards to score 16 second-chance points.

 

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