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    Flames' Second-Half Comeback Comes up Short at Wright State, 69-63

    Paul Carter has seven double-doubles in league play, tops in the Horizon League.
    Paul Carter has seven double-doubles in league play, tops in the Horizon League.
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    Feb. 5, 2011

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    DAYTON, Ohio - Robo Kreps scored a team-high 20 points and Paul Carter recorded his tenth double-double of the season, but Wright State raced out to a 14-point halftime lead, and held off a convincing second-half rally by the Flames, defeating the UIC men's basketball team, 69-63 at the Nutter Center Saturday night.

    Kreps played all 40 minutes, and five-of his seven field goals came from three-point range - he pushed his career scoring total to 1,478 points, just 22 tallies short of 1,500. Carter scored 18 points, including a 7-for-7 effort from the free throw line, and pulled down 11 rebounds.

    Wright State was led by preseason All-Horizon League honoree Vaughn Duggins, who poured in a game-high 28 points on nine field goals - he was joined in double figures by senior guard N'Gai Evans, who scored 18 points.

    The Flames (6-18, 1-11 Horizon) out-rebounded the Raiders by 16 (38-22), but committed 19 turnovers, leading to 23 points for Wright State. The Raiders built a 37-23 halftime lead, before UIC out-scored WSU 40-32 in the second half, trimming the deficit to just five points on two occasions.

    "You would think that I was pleased, because we made a great comeback and showed great effort in the second half," said UIC head coach Howard Moore. "But I'm more discouraged; we should have played like we played in the second half from the start. You have to compete for 40 minutes to have a chance to win at this level.

    "Now, I've got another reference point for my team - if you show up like we did in the second half, you can play with anybody and beat anybody in this league. I thought Robo (Kreps) was a warrior tonight; he really wanted this win, and I'm disappointed that we weren't able to do that."

    Wright State converted four-of its first six field goal attempts, taking a 12-4 lead with 15:24 remaining in the first half, and forcing the Flames into their first timeout. UIC answered with seven straight points, and pulled within 12-11 at the 13:46 mark, after a driving layup by Kreps.

    Senior guard Dipanjot Singh hit two free throws with 9:02 remaining, giving UIC its first lead (15-14). Wright State countered with a convincing 12-2 spree, and took a 26-17 lead with 5:48 left in the first half after Evans scored in transition. Wright State's lead reached double digits (31-21) for the first time with 2:39 remaining, when Duggins completed a conventional three-point play.

    A.J. Pacher and Evans combined to score six points in the final 2:06, helping the Raiders claim a game-high 14-point (37-23) lead heading into the locker room at halftime.

    UIC opened the second half on a 6-2 run, pulling back within ten (39-29) with 17:57 remaining. But Wright State countered with a 7-1 run, and took a game-high 46-30 lead with 14:23 left. The Flames out-scored WSU 12-1 over the ensuing 3:36, pulling back within two possessions (47-42) with 10:59 remaining - Kreps had two threes in the stretch.

    Wright State stretched its advantage back to double digits (53-42) less than two minutes later, with Duggins attacking the rim for a score, and Johann Mpondo tipping in a missed shot on the next offensive possession. Mpondo scored again just before the under-8 media timeout (7:44), helping the Raiders extend their advantage back to 13 points, 57-44.

    The Raiders held onto that double-digit advantage until the final four-minute stretch, when UIC made another late charge. Singh hit a three-pointer, followed by consecutive scores by Brad Birton and Paris Carter, as the Flames trimmed a 14-point (61-47) deficit to just seven (61-54) with 2:18 left.

    Wright State jumped ahead by nine points (63-54) with 1:46 remaining, but Kreps hit two-straight three-pointers, quickly trimming the deficit back to just five (65-60) with 54 seconds left. Evans hit four free throws in the final 28 seconds, as the Raiders held off the late rally to post the six-point win. Wright State was held without a field goal for the final 4:25.

    UIC will wrap up its three-game road trip next Monday (Feb. 7), when the Flames travel to Indianapolis to take on Butler. The Bulldogs posted a 73-61 win at Cleveland State Saturday afternoon.