UIC Lets Lead Slip Away in League Opener at Valpo, 87-72

Marc Brown netted a game-high 19 points against Valpo.
Marc Brown netted a game-high 19 points against Valpo.

Jan. 2, 2014

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VALPARAISO, Ind. – The UIC men’s basketball team (5-10, 0-1) dropped its Horizon League opener on the road at defending conference champion Valparaiso (9-7, 1-0) by a final of 87-72 on Thursday night.  The Flames held a 40-32 halftime lead, but the Crusaders outscored UIC 55-32 in the second period to secure the home win.  Junior Marc Brown paced the Flames with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, while seniors Kelsey Barlow and Hayden Humes chipped in 13 and 12, respectively. 

After shooting 48 percent in the first half, Valpo shot 15-of-22 (68.2%) in the second period, hitting 6-of-8 from three.  The Crusaders also benefitted from 41 free throw attempts, including 32 in the second half, to outscore UIC 23-10 from the charity stripe. Valpo received 36 points from their bench, 19 coming from Keith Carter, and tallied 17 fast-break points compared to just two for UIC.

UIC’s eight-point halftime lead was its largest of the game spurred by a Humes three-pointer with four seconds remaining.  The Flames were red hot from behind the arc in the first half, sinking 5-of-8 (62.5%), including two from Humes and Barlow.  UIC’s defense forced nine Valpo turnovers in the first 20 minutes and converted those miscues into 12 points.  Humes led all scorers at the break with 10 points.

The beginning of the second half was all Valparaiso as they captured a one-point lead with 14:34 on the clock after Carter converted a three-point play. The 51-50 advantage for the Crusaders was their first lead since the 15:06 mark in the first half.  A back-and-forth contest ensued with the lead changing hands and the score knotting up on four separate occasions each over the next five minutes.  Valpo took the lead once and for all with 9:18 left to play on a pair of made free throws as the Crusaders went on to outscore UIC 28-13 down the stretch.

Senior Jordan Harks grabbed a game-high eight rebounds as he tacked on nine points, while hitting 4-of-6 from the field.  To go along with his 19 points, Brown corralled a season-high six boards.  Sophomore Gabe Snider knocked down 2-of-2 from behind the arc, increasing his season three-point shooting percentage to 45.9.  The Flames received three minutes from 6-foot-11 center Will Simonton, his first action since Nov. 20 after recovering from a broken hand.  

The Flames return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 7, against Youngstown State at home with tip scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.  UIC owns a three-game winning streak versus the Penguins and holds a 24-7 all-time series advantage.