Flames win three in a row; seniors grab league honors
The men’s basketball team dug down on defense Saturday, grinding out its third-straight win, 56-45, over Southeast Missouri at the UIC Pavilion.
After the Flames went 2-0 last week, senior point guard Gary Talton was named the league’s Co-Player of the Week, and senior center Josh Crittle was tabbed the Newcomer of the Week.
Crittle posted his first double-double with a game-high 17 points and 12 rebounds.For the second-straight game, UIC’s senior starters led the offensive attack. Talton recorded his fifth double-digit scoring output of the season, chipping in 14 points and a career-high nine rebounds. Daniel Barnes added 10 points.
The Flames recorded a 50-40 advantage on the boards and committed five turnovers on offense. UIC outscored SEMO, 18-0, off turnovers.
UIC has won three consecutive games for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign. The Flames’ 4-1 record marks its best start since 2003-04, when UIC jumped out of the gate with a 6-1 mark.
“I’ve been saying this all season — we’ve got to be a grind-it-out type of team,” head coach Howard Moore said. “Our staple has to be our defense. We held a very good team to only 30 percent shooting.”
The Redhawks were the aggressors in the early stages, jumping out to an early 16-9 lead. UIC claimed its first lead with about 10 minutes left in the half. Talton’s three-pointer with five minutes left in the half gave the Flames their biggest lead of the frame, 26-19.
Crittle tallied his fifth field goal of the half with about a minute on the clock, giving UIC a 28-25 lead at halftime.
UIC extended its lead to 31-25 in the second half, but the Redhawks answered with a 7-0 run, taking a 32-31 lead with less than 13 minutes remaining.
Junior forward Hayden Humes converted a field goal to retake the lead, which the Flames kept the rest of the game.
UIC heads to Northwestern Saturday for a 1 p.m. match.
League honorsTalton averaged 15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in the Flames’ last two contests, earning him the league’s Co-Player of the Week honors.
“Gary has been a consistent scorer for us, but he’s also been the floor general that we expected him to be this season,” Moore said. “He’s been locked in on the game plan, and has been very unselfish running our offense. I expect him to have a great senior year.”
For the week, Talton shot nearly 40 percent (.391) from the field, 57.1 percent (4-7) from three-point range and 90 percent (9-10) from the free-throw line. He tallied an assist/turnover ratio of 4.5 in an average of 37 minutes per game.
Crittle, a first-year transfer from the University of Central Florida, averaged 15 points and eight rebounds while shooting nearly 48 percent from the field last week. He converted 10 field goals, made 16 trips to the free throw line (10-of-16), pulled down 16 rebounds and handed out four assists.“Josh has been a great addition to our team,” Moore said. “He came here for a reason — he wanted to be a big factor in turning a program around. We’re excited to have him. One of the keys for us is to get him asserted early in the game.”