Flames' Comeback Comes up Just Short versus New Mexico, 66-59

Nov. 16, 2012

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ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands - Junior forward Hayden Humes and senior point guard Gary Talton combined to score 30 points and the Flames held New Mexico to just five field goals in the second half, but the UIC men's basketball team came up just short, 66-59, against the Lobos in its first game of the US Virgin Islands Paradise Jam Friday evening.

With the setback, UIC drops to 1-1 on the season. New Mexico improves to 2-0. The Flames will face Mercer Saturday afternoon beginning at 3:30 p.m. local time (1:30 p.m. CST). The Bears dropped a 52-49 decision versus George Mason in Friday's opening game of the tournament.

"We got a lot out of Josh Crittle in the second half; that was the biggest thing that led to our comeback," said head coach Howard Moore. "When he got into foul trouble in the first half, we became pretty stagnant offensively. But we were able to grind it out, and keep it to a 14-point deficit halftime.

"I knew that if we ran our offense and stuck to our plan of getting the ball inside in the second half, we would be fine. Defensively, we did a good job in the second half of not allowing them (New Mexico) to get to the basket as easily. When they tried to put their head down and drive, I thought our guys did a nice job of getting deflections, and moving over and shifting. We just didn't have enough down the stretch."

For the opening 12-plus minutes of the first half, it was a see-saw affair, with both teams trading baskets. At the third media timeout of the frame (7:08), the Lobos were clinging to a one-point advantage, 17-16. New Mexico out-scored the Flames 20-7 down the stretch of the half, taking a 37-23 lead into the locker room at intermission.

UIC opened the second half on a commanding 10-2 run, quickly trimming the Lobos' lead to just five, 43-38, at the under-12 media timeout (11:49). Senior center Josh Crittle converted his first field goal of the game at the 11:26 mark, and scored all eight of his points in the ensuing 6:50 span, helping the Flames pull within two, 54-52, with 3:28 remaining.

UIC was within one possession twice in the final 1:33, but could draw no closer than a three-point deficit. New Mexico went 9-for-9 from the charity stripe in the last 46 seconds, including a 4-for-4 effort from both Williams and Alex Kirk.

UIC held New Mexico to just five field goals in the second half and only a 31.3 percent effort from the floor. Meanwhile, the Flames shot 44.4 percent in the second frame. The Lobos were also forced into 18 turnovers, spearheaded by UIC's eight steals.

Saturday's game against Mercer can be heard live on ESPN Chicago (WMVP-AM 1000) and, beginning at 1:15 p.m. CST.