Flames lose grip on lead against Youngstown State

Jason McClellan

Jason McClellan led UIC with 19 points. Photo: Steve Woltmann

The men’s basketball team (5-16, 1-5 Horizon League) lost hold of an early lead and fell at Youngstown State (10-13, 1-7 Horizon League) Saturday, 77-64.

The Flames return to action Thursday with a 7 p.m. game in Milwaukee. They host Valparaiso at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Pavilion.

The Penguins shot 68.2 percent (15-of-22) in the final half, outscoring the Flames, 51-36. Junior Jason McClellan led UIC with a career-high 19 points and shot 4-of-4 from behind the arc.

UIC started fast and went on an 11-0 run to lead 14-3 by the 14:39 mark. Junior Paris Burns sank a three-pointer from the left wing with 6:21 left in the first half to give the Flames a 23-12 edge. That’s when Youngstown State took hold of the momentum and scored eight straight points to close out the first period on a 14-5 spurt.

UIC owned a two-point advantage (28-26) at halftime, but the Penguins opened the second frame on a 15-2 run to go ahead by 11 (41-30) with 15:48 left to play.

The Flames fought their way back and cut YSU’s lead down to five (48-43) by the 9:49 mark after a 9-2 offensive spurt. But with 8:36 left to play, the Penguins rattled off eight straight points to go in front, 58-45. Minutes later, the Penguins took their largest lead of the night (66-50) after back-to-back threes.

McClellan answered with consecutive triples and eventually the lead was cut to eight, but Youngstown State converted foul shots down the stretch to snap its seven-game losing streak.

Burns finished with 16 points and six rebounds, while fifth-year senior Jay Harris added 13 points. Junior D’Juan Miller dished out a game-high seven assists, tying his career-best.

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