Flames finish season in league quarterfinals
In a Horizon League Championship quarterfinal contest that featured eight ties and eight lead changes, the Milwaukee Panthers advanced with an 80-75 victory over the Flames Sunday at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
Despite topping Milwaukee (16-16, 8-10 Horizon League) twice in the regular season by 16.5 points per game, the Panthers had UIC’s (17-15, 12-6 Horizon League) postseason number yet again and eliminated the Flames from the conference tournament for the second consecutive season.
Milwaukee took advantage of 16 UIC turnovers and turned the miscues into 25 points.
Sophomore Tarkus Ferguson paced the Flames with a season-high 23 points, adding a game-best seven assists and five rebounds. He shot 70 percent from the floor, 60 percent from downtown and 100 percent from the charity stripe.
Trailing by six in the early going, the Flames uncorked an 11-0 run to take a five-point lead over Milwaukee in the first three minutes.
The Panthers steadied their ship and eventually gained a six-point lead with 7:46 to go.
A slam dunk from Marcus Ottey pulled the Flames back within a point for the third time in less than three minutes before Dikembe Dixson helped the Flames regain the lead at 33-32 with 2:13 left in the period. The teams entered the locker room even at 37 points each.
A basket in the paint for Tai Odiase just 13 seconds into the second half put UIC ahead. The Flames maintained control and built the lead up to seven points with 12:32 remaining on another acrobatic layup from Ottey.
Milwaukee took back the lead with about nine minutes left.
UIC was down by seven with 2:39 to go when Milwaukee’s Bryce Barnes was whistled for traveling. He shoved UIC’s Jordan Blount after the play and drew a technical foul. Ferguson made both free throws to cut the deficit to five, but the Flames turned the ball over on the next possession and failed to capitalize further.