Men’s basketball keeps winning streak alive

Tai Odiase

Tai Odiase ­(Photo: Jose Juarez)

UIC overcame a sluggish start to collect its sixth consecutive win — and the sixth in a row away from home — as it blitzed the Detroit Mercy Titans, 78-69.

The Flames, after falling behind 7-0, shot 61.5 percent in the first half, while the offense sputtered in the second half, shooting 32.4 percent. UIC held the Titans to nine field goals and a mark of 27.3 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes.

Dikembe Dixson carried the load offensively Sunday, scoring 23 points on 7-of-11 from the floor. He added eight points from the free throw line to go along with a season-high eight rebounds and four steals. UIC’s Tarkus Ferguson added his second double-double of the campaign with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

Detroit Mercy opened the game with seven unanswered points from guard Josh McFolley. Godwin Boahen came off the bench for UIC and scored five quick points to get the visitors back on track. The Flames steadied the ship and eventually tied the game at 11 on a jumper from Dixson with 14:23 remaining in the half.

UIC earned its first lead of the ballgame when Dixson converted a 3-pointer from the right wing that put the Flames in front, 22-21, with just over eight minutes left in the stanza.

Dixson’s 3-pointer sparked a 12-1 run for the Flames that put the visiting team in front, 31-22, with 5:20 to go in the frame. The lead later ballooned to 11 points for the first time when Ferguson made 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions for UIC.

The Titans scored 11 of the final 17 points of the first half to climb back within six at the break, 43-37. It was a four-point game in the final minute before UIC’s Jacob Wiley knifed inside for a layup off a feed from Boahen.

The Flames built the lead back up to 10 points after Jordan Blount scored in the paint to put UIC in front, 49-39. The Titans made it a one-possession game with 14:08 left in the game after a Cole Long layup.

With the Titans within three, the Flames ripped off a 13-3 run that was capped on emphatic Michael Diggins bucket that made the score 67-54 with a shade under six minutes remaining.

Detroit Mercy continued to scrap and claw its way through the closing minutes, eventually pulling back to within four points after DeShawndre Black was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three shots from the stripe.

UIC led, 71-67, with 1:13 left, but UIC scored five unanswered points. Marcus Ottey made two more from the line in the closing seconds to help the Flames score a 78-69 triumph.

The Flames will return to the UIC Pavilion at 7 p.m. Thursday, when they host the Youngstown State Penguins.

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