Flames advance to league semifinals with win vs Cleveland State

UIC Flames women's basketball vs Cleveland St

Rachel Story led the Flames with 24 points against Cleveland State. Photo: Timothy Nguyen/UIC News

The women’s basketball team (22-8) led the entire game Wednesday as the Flames defeated No. 5 seed Cleveland State (14-16) in the quarterfinals of the Horizon League Tournament, 77-72.

UIC advances to the semifinals to play No. 1 seed Green Bay (21-8) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Wisconsin.

The Phoenix defeated No. 9 Valparaiso 72-55 at home Wednesday.

The first semifinal will feature No. 2 Wright State and No. 3 Youngstown State with tip set for 5 p.m.

UIC out-rebounded CSU, 40-28,  with 44 points in the paint, 18 offensive rebounds and 14 second-chance points.

“Cleveland State is a very good team and I am glad we were able to sustain runs throughout the contest,” head coach Regina Miller said.

UIC scored the first 15 points of the game before a 19-7 CSU run narrowed the Flames’ lead to 22-19 with 5:02 left in the first half.

Imani Gordon’s layup with four seconds left cut UIC’s advantage to 32-28 before Rachel Story banked in a three-quarters court shot at the halftime buzzer to put the Flames up 35-28 at the break.

“Rachel’s shot before halftime gave us a lift entering the second half,” Miller said.

UIC came out strong early in the second half and led 56-44 on Ruvanna Campbell’s free throw with 10:27 remaining. The Vikings scored 21 out of the next 31 points and narrowed the Flames’ lead to 66-65 on Haley Schmitt’s layup with 4:35 on the clock.

Two jumpers from Katie Hannemann and a layup by Campbell kept the Flames in front but the Vikings responded with buckets each time and trailed, 74-72, with seven seconds left. Story was sent to the line and sank the first before her second attempt got stuck on the back of the rim. UIC held the possession arrow and Emily Kobel sealed the victory with two more free throws.

“Our post players made key shots down the stretch,” Miller said.

Story led the Flames with 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting, hitting 3-of-8 three-point attempts. She is 10-of-26 from beyond the arc over the last three contests.

The game was Story’s third consecutive 20-point game and her 13th of the season. With 971 career points, she needs 29 more points to become the 20th member of UIC’s 1,000-point club.

Campbell picked up her 12th straight double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds. She added four assists, three steals and two blocks. She is averaging 16.3 rebounds over the last three contests — 22 double-doubles this season — and her 367 rebounds are the second-most in a single season in program history.

Hannemann contributed 14 points, five rebounds and three assists. She passed Taylor Foulks (2009-13) into 16th place in program history with 1,029 career points.

Sophomore Terri Bender scored 11 points for her fourth double-digit effort in five games, with seven assists. She is dishing out 5.6 assists per contest over the last five games.

“We are excited to continue tournament play at Green Bay Friday night,” Miller said.


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