Flames' Comeback Bid Falls Short at Wright State, 69-63

Freshman Ahman Fells
Freshman Ahman Fells

Jan. 25, 2012

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DAYTON, Ohio - Freshman Marc Brown scored a team-high 17 points to lead three Flames in double figures, and UIC erased an 18-point deficit to pull within just one point down the stretch, but Wright State junior Julius Mays poured in 33 points, including a 19-of-20 effort from the free throw line, leading the Raiders to a 69-63 win over the UIC men's basketball team at the Nutter Center Wednesday night.

With the setback, UIC moves to 6-14 on the season with a 2-8 Horizon League record. Wright State upped its record to 10-12 (5-5Horizon), and secured the regular season sweep over the Flames.

Brown's scoring output came on a 5-for-12 effort from the field - he was joined in double figures by junior point guard Gary Talton, who scored 14 points, and senior center Darrin Williams, who chipped in 11 points to go along with eight rebounds. Mays' 33-point outburst was fueled by four three-pointers, and the aforementioned 20 trips to the charity stripe.

UIC trailed 42-24 with just under two minutes remaining in the first half, but mounted a furious second-half comeback, pulling within just one point with 7:26 remaining. Junior guard Daniel Barnes missed a three-pointer from the right corner (2:45) that would have given UIC the lead, but it drew iron, and went long. Wright State converted 10 of its 18 second half free throws in the final 2:36 to secure the six-point win.

"Julius Mays is an aggressive player; there is no doubt about that," said head coach Howard Moore. "He really looks for his shots, and he's physical. He was the difference tonight. We made a great comeback, because we started getting stops. We got some deflections and some steals, and started to assert ourselves the way we wanted to at the start of the game. Unfortunately, we didn't show up until the second half, until we were really in a hole."

Wright State came out of the gate hot, jumping out to a commanding 14-3 lead through the opening 4:47. Mays drilled three-pointer with 8:17 left in the first half to stretch the Raiders' advantage to 17 points, 28-11. Ahman Fells, Paris Carter and Sammy Sutter scored on the ensuing possessions, trimming Wright State's lead to 31-20 with 4:36 remaining in the opening stanza.

But WSU responded with an 11-4 flurry, taking a game-high 18-point (42-24) lead with 1:49 remaining in the half. The Raiders took a 42-28 lead into the locker room at halftime after Marc Brown and Williams combined to score four points in the final 1:32.

UIC tightened up defensively to start the second frame, allowing the Raiders just one field goal in the first 7:40. During that stretch, the Flames out-scored the Raiders, 13-4, and pulled within one possession, 44-41, with 14:00 remaining.

While the Flames never gained the lead, they were within one possession of the Raiders on 12 occasions down the stretch. UIC out-scored Wright State 28-10 in the paint, 14-8 on second-chance points, and held a decisive 34-27 advantage on the boards. The Flames shot a season-best 94.7 percent (18-19) from the free throw line, but saw the Raiders attempt 33 free throws, 14 more trips to the charity stripe than UIC made (19). The Flames were whistled for 26 personal fouls, including 17 in the second half.

Marc Brown's 17 points marked a season-high during Horizon League play, and represented his third double-digit scoring output in conference action - he led the Flames in scoring for the fourth time this season. Talton recorded his 13th game scoring in double digits this season, while Williams has scored a combined 33 points in two games against Wright State this season.

The Flames will travel to the Motor City to take on Detroit in a Horizon League road contest Friday (Jan. 27). Tip-off from Calihan Hall is set for 6 p.m. CST.