UIC falls to Valparaiso

Michael Kolawole; men's basketball

Michael Kolawole posted 16 points. — Photo: Steve Woltmann

UIC’s sluggish start on the offensive end proved problematic Saturday as the visiting Valparaiso Crusaders picked up a 73-55 victory over the Flames at the UIC Pavilion.

UIC took great care of the basketball in the first half, committing only two turnovers in the first 20 minutes. But the Flames were unable to knock down shots with regularity in the first half. UIC converted just seven of 28 attempts from the field. Valparaiso took advantage, and with the help of six three-pointers and 12 points from the bench, the Crusaders took a 41-21 cushion into the locker room at the break.

The visitors scored first to open the second half, but the Flames went on an 8-0 run over a span of 2:24 to claw back to within striking distance with about 17 minutes remaining in the game. The home team’s deficit was whittled down to 12 points with 12:27 to go after Dikembe Dixson netted two of his game-high 18 points, but UIC would not come closer.

The offense flowed much better in the second half as the Flames outscored the Crusaders, 34-32. After being held to 25 percent shooting in the first half, UIC shot 40 percent in the second stanza.

Aside from Dixson, UIC’s Michael Kolawole and Tai Odiase scored in double figures for the Flames. Kolawole posted a career-high 16 points, while Odiase poured in 10 to go along with four rebounds and two blocks in 27 minutes. Dixson paced the squad with seven rebounds, marking the 12th time he led the way on the glass.

UIC continues its five-game homestand at 7 p.m. Thursday when the Wright State Raiders visit the UIC Pavilion. The Flames close the homestand at 3 p.m. Saturday against the Horizon League’s newest member, Northern Kentucky.

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