Second Half Comeback Falls Short at Loyola, 69-60
Feb. 16, 2013
With the setback, UIC dropped to 15-11 on the season, with a 6-7 Horizon League mark. Loyola improved to 14-12 (4-9 Horizon) and secured the regular season split against the Flames.
"Hats off to Loyola," said head coach Howard Moore. "They really came out with a purpose tonight, and they did it short-handed. Jordan Hicks refused to let his team lose, and I've been praising Christian Thomas all year long for his toughness. Loyola is a tough team that was willing to do whatever it takes to get a win, and they definitely accomplished that today."
Sophomore wing Marc Brown came off the bench to score a team and season-high 13 points, while senior point guard Gary Talton and junior forward Hayden Humes each chipped in 10. Thomas' 23-point outburst came on a 9-of-16 effort from the field; he also corralled game-high 11 rebounds. Jordan Hicks added 18 points, while freshman Devon Turk scored 10. Talton also dished out eight assists against just one turnover.
Loyola led 36-23 at halftime after shooting a collective 51.9 percent from the floor. Thomas scored 12 points in the opening frame. The Ramblers broke an 8-8 tie with an 18-4 run, claiming a commanding 26-12 lead with 4:15 remaining in the stanza. Freshman Jake Wiegand, who scored six points in the game, and Joey Miller, combined for a pair of field goals in the final 2:46. But Thomas scored as the horn sounded, securing the Ramblers' 13-point lead heading into intermission.
The pace picked up at the outset of the second half, with both teams combining for nine field goals before the first media timeout (15:37). UIC pulled within single digits for the first time at the 11:36 mark, when Brown hit two free throws coming out of the under-12 media break. UIC went on a 13-9 run over the ensuing five minutes, pulling within 56-52 (6:35) after a three-pointer from senior guard Daniel Barnes.
UIC forced a defensive stop on the next possession after Crittle blocked Turk's three-point attempt from the right wing. But Thomas corralled the offensive rebound and made the ensuing layup, pushing Loyola's lead back to six (58-52). Crittle converted a pair of free throws with 5:22 remaining to move UIC back within four points, 58-54. But Hicks answered with a layup of his own, extending the Ramblers' lead to 60-54 with 4:44 left. The Flames could draw no closer down the stretch.
The Flames finished the second half shooting 51.7 percent from the floor on 15 field goals. Loyola out-scored UIC 36-32 in the paint, and held a 35-30 advantage on the boards.
UIC will wrap up its four-game Horizon League road trip next Wednesday (Feb. 20), when the Flames travel to Milwaukee. The Flames posted a 60-50 win over the Panthers at the Pavilion on Jan. 23.