UIC Edges #1 UW-Milwaukee, 65-62, For Horizon League Tournament Title
March 9, 2004
Milwaukee, Wis. - For the second time in the last three years, the University of Illinois at Chicago men's basketball team claimed the Horizon League Tournament Championship and extended its winning-streak to 12 games with a 65-62 victory over top-seeded UW-Milwaukee in front of a record-crowd of 10,254 at U.S. Cellular Arena on Tuesday night.
And for the second time in the last three years, it came down to the final seconds of the contest.
With the score tied at 62-apiece, sophomore Elliott Poole (10 points) broke the tie with a turnaround bank-shot from the block to give the Flames the 64-62 advantage with 35 seconds left.
UW-Milwaukee was unable to score on the ensuing possession and was forced to foul freshman point guard Marcetteaus McGee (5 points) with five seconds left.
McGee missed the front end of the two-shot bonus, but converted the final charity shot to give UIC the 65-62 lead.
UW-Milwaukee junior guard Ed McCants' three-point attempt at the buzzer went array, giving the Flames the victory and their second berth to the NCAA Tournament in the past three seasons.
"What an exciting game," UIC Head Coach Jimmy Collins said. "If I was a fan, I think I could have really, really enjoyed it.
"I think our depth really came through for us," Collins continued. "Our bench guys got in there and played just as well as the starters."
With the victory, UIC improves its record to 24-7 on the season, while UW-Milwaukee falls to 19-10 and awaits a possible NIT bid.
Senior guard Cedrick Banks led the Flames with 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Senior forward and Tournament MVP, Armond Williams, posted a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds, while teammate Aaron Carr came off of the bench and tallied 11 points, including three treys for the Flames.
UW-Milwaukee senior forward and Horizon League Player of the Year, Dylan Page posted a game-high 20 points, followed by McCants (19 points) and Joah Tucker (11 points).
Page and McCants combined to shoot 10-for-17 from beyond the three-point arc, but the Panthers' found trouble from the free-throw line, converting just 8-for-20 from the charity stripe.
Following the contest, Williams was selected as the Tournament MVP and was joined on the All-Tournament team by Banks, Poole, McCants and Butler's Avery Sheets.
UIC now awaits its opponent for the 2004 NCAA Tournament as bids will be handed out on Sunday evening.
"We've got experience now," Collins said. "I think this time we'll go into the game a little more confident."