Men rally, but fall to rival DePaul 72-71
The men’s basketball team will face in-state rival Western Illinois in the home opener Monday at 7 p.m. at the UIC Pavilion.
In their first game of the season Friday against DePaul (1-0), UIC (0-1) rallied after a 21-point deficit late in the first half to take the lead with 30 seconds left to play. But the Flames eventually fell by one (72-71) to end their visit to McGrath-Phillips Arena.
The Flames out-scored DePaul, 41-26, in the second period after trailing, 46-30, at the break. Senior Marc Brown netted a game-high 19 points, while junior Jake Wiegand secured a double-double with 15 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
“Our performance in the second half is the team I have been coaching this past month,” said Moore. “We came out flat to start the game and that really hurts us. This team has a lot of fight and if we play every game with the same type of intensity that we showed late in the game tonight, then this will be a fun season.”
After a sluggish first 20 minutes, UIC mounted a 13-2 run early in the second period to pull within seven of the Blue Demons (50-43). DePaul stretched its lead back out to double digits, but the Flames rattled off nine straight points closing the gap to 63-61 with 4:15 left to play.
UIC knotted the score at 67-67 with 2:16 on the clock after freshman Tai Odiase sank two free throws, but a layup by Tommy Hamilton put DePaul back in front by two. Hamilton finished with a team-high 17 points and eight boards.
Odiase tied it up once again with 1:11 left to play off a missed shot put back. That’s when sophomore Markese McGuire drained a long two-pointer with 30 seconds left to give UIC its first lead of the night.
After a DePaul timeout, 2014 Big East Rookie of the Year Billy Garrett sank a game-winning three-pointer as 6.5 seconds remained in the game. UIC junior D’Juan Miller had a clean look from three at the other end but the shot sailed long.
The Flames defense held DePaul to 36 percent field-goal shooting in the second half, including just 2-of-13 from behind the arc. UIC out-rebounded the Blue Demons by a margin of 46-34.
UIC received a strong debut performance from newcomer Paris Burns, who scored 15 points and grabbed five boards. Twelve of Burns’ total came in the first half as he paced all scorers at the break. Miller chipped in eight points and dished out a team-high five assists.
Odiase got the start down low in his first collegiate game as he ended the night with six points and two rebounds. McGuire racked up a career-high six rebounds, four of which were offensive, in just 18 minutes of action.