UIC’s rally falls short in Horizon League semifinals

BB_Tournament; men's basketball

The Flames celebrate their win Sunday versus Green Bay. UIC advanced to the semifinals of the league tournament but fell to Milwaukee. ­(Photo: Jose Juarez/Horizon League)

UIC trailed by as many as 10 points in the second half Monday night, and though the Flames stormed back to tie Milwaukee, they couldn’t snag the lead and the Panthers advanced to the championship game with a 74-68 victory.

Redshirt freshman Dominique Matthews scored a game-high 21 points with four 3-pointers.

Clint Robinson chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench, but the Flames (15-18) did not have enough firepower to get past the Panthers (11-23).

Through the first eight minutes, the Panthers made eight of their 11 attempts from the field (72.7 percent) and two of the first three shots from beyond the arc.

The Flames cranked up the defense and forced the Panthers to shoot 28.6 percent (6-of-21) over the rest of the half.

UIC got to within a point when Godwin Boahen drew a foul on a hard drive and scored.

Trailing by four a few minutes later, Marcus Ottey nearly ripped the rim down when he soared through the back door and into the air to catch a perfect lob from the perimeter from Boahen.

With 6:24 remaining in the first half, Matthews rang home a three-pointer that briefly gave the Flames a one-point lead, but Milwaukee’s Brock Stull scored a triple of his own a minute later.

Matthews evened the game with 2:34 left in the first period, but Milwaukee scored the final four points of the half, giving them a 34-30 cushion into the break.

The Panthers pushed the lead up to as many as 10 points in the second half, and they led by nine, 58-49, with 6:48 remaining when the Flames began their surge.

Robinson started a furious 12-3 run that culminated with Matthews evening the score at 61-61 with 3:48 remaining. The run featured five points from Matthews, four from Robinson and a big three-pointer from Boahen.

The Panthers led by two before Matthews evened the score at 63 points with 2:24 left in the game.

Milwaukee scored five unanswered points and the shots stopped falling for the Flames as the Panthers sealed a 74-68 victory.

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