Flames falter in regular season finale

Marcus Ottey jumping to make a basket

Marcus Ottey goes up for a layup. (Photo: Steve Woltmann)

Wright State got 23 points from Loudon Love and 21 from Grant Benzinger in an 88-81 win over UIC the regular season finale Sunday at the UIC Pavilion. Love also had 15 rebounds, and Everest Winchester contributed 19 points.

UIC will enter the Horizon League tournament as the No. 3 seed versus No. 6 Milwaukee at 4 p.m. March 4 in Detroit.

Purchase women’s and men’s game tickets online. Use the code “UIC” for single-game tickets and the code “FLAMES” for all-session passes.

The Flames finished third in the Horizon League standings with a 12-6 record.

Before Sunday’s game, UIC honored seniors Tai Odiase and Clint Robinson, as well as senior manager Mike Kelly, for their contributions to the men’s basketball program.

Dikembe Dixson led with 19 points.

Tai Odiase poked the ball away on a Raiders 2-on-1 break, and the Flames turned the steal into a Tarkus Ferguson layup to go up 7-4 in the first minutes. Later, Jordan Blount made a scrappy play to track down an offensive rebound, drove while avoiding contact and made a layup of his own.

Three players — Dixson, Ferguson and Wright State’s Benzinger — each reached double digits in the scoring column before the eight-minute mark. They combined to go 6-for-8 beyond the arc in the first 12 minutes.

Love scored eight of Wright State’s final 10 first-half points, while UIC struggled to control the defensive glass down the stretch. Though the Flames’ lead got as high as 14, the Raiders went into the locker room down by only eight.

Wright State went on an 8-1 run over the first two minutes of the second half. Though Marcus Ottey had a three-point play following a layup on a nice step-through move, Wright State continued attacking the paint and tied the game at 55 moments later.

After the Raiders took a one point lead, the Flames held WSU without a field goal for four minutes. Dixson turned up the offense with six straight UIC points, and the home team reclaimed a five-point lead.

The Raiders took control of the middle stages of the half. Dominique Matthews halted that momentum in a flash with back-to-back threes.

The teams traded the lead until the final minute. Wright State forced the Flames to defend an extra-long possession by grabbing an offensive rebound and milking the shot clock until Everett Winchester made a short jumper. The Flames turned the ball over, and the Raiders got the dagger on a shot with one second on the shot clock.