Flames Grind Out Road Win at Wright State, 55-49
Jan. 26, 2013
Gary Talton scored a game-high 18 points, including an 11-of-14 effort from the free throw line in the second half, helping lead the UIC men's basketball team to its first Horizon League road win, 55-49 over Wright State in front of 8,065 fans at the Nutter Center Saturday night.
Overall, UIC improved to 13-8, and wrapped up the first half of Horizon League play with a 4-4 record. Wright State, who entered the game in sole possession of second place in the League standings, dropped to 14-7 and 5-3.
UIC played 40 minutes of gritty defense, holding the Raiders to just 33.3 percent shooting, including a 23.8 percent output in the first half. The Flames led by 14 points twice in the game, but were forced to hold off Wright State's second half rally - the Raiders sliced UIC's lead to just three points three times in the final 4:34, but never took the lead.
To go along with his 18 points, Talton pulled down six rebounds and dished out five assists. He was joined in double figures by Josh Crittle, who chipped in 11 points. Wright State leading scorer Cole Darling scored 11 points - he was the lone Raider in double figures.
"This was a hard-fought victory," said head coach Howard Moore. "It wasn't pretty, but we got the W. Gary (Talton) was tremendous tonight. He's our leader, and is the heart-and-soul of this team. He did a great job of staying poised, got other guys involved, and made his free throws when he needed to."
UIC took its first lead (11-8) just over seven minutes into the game, when senior guard Daniel Barnes broke an 8-8 tie with a three-pointer from the right wing. The Flames' advantage ballooned to a game-high 14 points (24-10) with 6:11 remaining, after junior forward Hayden Humes' three-pointer from the top of the key capped off a 9-0 run - Talton, Crittle and sophomore guard Joey Miller also provided field goals during the spurt.
Wright State's A.J. Pacher made a pair of free throws with 4:26 remaining in the half to pull WSU within 10 (24-14), but the Raiders did not score again for the remainder of the frame. Senior forward Anthony Kelley drove to the basket and finished off glass with 1:21 remaining, completing the first half's scoring (26-14). The Flames scored 10 points in the paint and out-scored the Raiders 9-0 off turnovers in the opening 20:00.
The Flames went inside to Crittle on the opening possession of the second half, building their lead back to 14 points, 28-14 (19:43). But UIC did not convert another field goal until the 4:55 mark, when sophomore wing Marc Brown corralled an offensive rebound, scored the ball and drew the personal foul on Wright State's Kendall Griffin. Brown completed the three-point play, giving the Flames a 41-36 lead. Despite the offensive draught, UIC was able to preserve the lead by going 8-for-11 from the free throw line between the 13:59 and 7:40 mark. The Flames made a concerted effort to touch the post and attack the basket in what turned into a half-court, defensive-minded final 20:00.
Wright State's Jerran Young tallied a steal and scored on the ensuing possession, pulling the Raiders within 41-38 with 4:34 left. But Talton answered with an 18-foot jump shot on the other end, as UIC extended its lead back to five, 43-38. Tavares Sledge then converted a baseline jumper near the end of the shot clock (3:44) to pull back within three (43-40), but Talton answered with another dagger, converting his lone triple of the game to push the Flames' lead back to two possessions, 46-40.
The Raiders mounted one last rally; pulling within 49-46 with 39 seconds remaining after J.T. Yoho hit a three-pointer. But UIC put the game away on the ensuing possession, breaking the press to perfection. Crittle was alone in the corner, drove to the basket and finished off glass with 27 seconds left. Talton made all four-of his free throws down the stretch to preserve the win.
The victory ended a 30-game Horizon League regular season road losing streak for the Flames. Before Saturday, UIC's last regular season Horizon League road win was on Feb. 27, 2009 against rival Loyola.
UIC will kick-off a two-game homestand next Thursday (Jan. 31), when the Flames take on Green Bay at the Pavilion beginning at 7:00 p.m. The Phoenix (11-10, 5-3 Horizon) defeated Milwaukee 74-54 at the Klotsche Center Friday, and are currently tied for third in the Horizon League standings.