Men's Basketball Pulls Away from Youngstown State, 83-61

Jan. 29, 2011

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CHICAGO - Senior forwards Brad Birton and Paul Carter each tallied double-doubles and the Flames recorded a dominating 53-26 advantage on the boards, leading to an 83-61 win for the UIC men's basketball team over visiting Youngstown State at the UIC Pavilion Saturday afternoon. The victory marked the first Horizon League win for the Flames and the first for head coach Howard Moore.

For the second-straight game, Birton recorded career-highs in both scoring (14) and rebounding (14). With 3:48 remaining in the first half, Birton had already secured his second-consecutive double-double. Carter also scored 14 points, and ripped down 10 rebounds, representing his ninth double-double of the season. Senior guards Robo Kreps (12) and Dipanjot Singh (11) also joined their classmates in double figures.

Youngstown State was led by Blake Allen's 14 points on four three-pointers - Vytas Sulskis also chipped in 11 points. Along with the convincing 27-rebound margin, the Flames also out-scored the Penguins in the paint (36-24), off turnovers (21-11), on second-chance points (21-4), and through the fast break (8-7) and bench (28-21).

The Flames (6-16, 1-9 Horizon) were also stingy on the defensive end, swiping eight steals and holding Youngstown State to a 39.7 percent effort from the field.

"It feels good to get that gorilla off of our backs," said head coach Howard Moore. "We haven't had a victory in a while, but in all fairness to our players, they have really stayed the course, and kept coming to work every day. You would have thought we were 9-0 in the league the way they came to practice this week. Our guys did a tremendous job today, and Brad (Birton) really set the tone, with the effort and the defense. That's what we ask him to do all the time. As the game wore on, it became infectious with our other players.

"You really have to credit our defense for allowing our lead to grow larger, and to lead us to a win today."

UIC led by as many as four points in the early stages, before Allen hit back-to-back threes to give the Penguins a 13-9 lead with 13:59 remaining in the opening half. The Flames quickly re-gained the advantage, before YSU answered with another 10-4 run, jumping out to a 23-18 lead at the 9:50 mark.

Singh controlled the ensuing 1:46, dishing out a transition assist, making two steals and converting two three-point plays, including one in conventional fashion. After his three-pointer following an offensive rebound, UIC took a 27-23 lead with 8:04 left in the frame. While the Flames never trailed again in the stanza, YSU trimmed the deficit to just two points twice in the ensuing seven minutes, and trailed by only one possession (34-32) heading into the locker room at halftime.

The Penguins scored the first four points of the second half, and took a 36-34 lead after a jumper by Sulskis. But UIC answered with a 6-2 flurry, and jumped ahead, 40-38, with 16:30 left. The Flames kept the run going after the first media timeout, stretching their lead to eight (46-38) with 14:55 remaining.

YSU made one last charge, trimming the deficit to just five (48-43) at the 12:52 mark. But UIC began to pull away, going on a commanding 15-2 run to take a 63-47 lead with 9:03 remaining. That lead reached 20 points (68-48) with 6:50 left, and a game-high 31 points (79-48) with 2:59 remaining.

UIC will begin a three-game road trip at Detroit next Thursday (Feb. 3). Tip-off from Calihan Hall in the Motor City is set for 6 p.m. CST.