Flames Fight Back to Upend Iona, 86-81
Nov. 19, 2012
ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands - The UIC men's basketball team erased a double-digit second half deficit and placed four players in double figures, leading to an 86-81 win over Iona College in the finale of the US Virgin Islands Paradise Jam Monday night. Junior forward Hayden Humesled the way offensively, scoring a career-high 22 points, including 17 in the second half.
With the win, UIC improves to 3-1 on the season, and wrapped up the Paradise Jam with a 2-1 record. The Flames are guaranteed no worse than a fourth-place finish in the eight-team field. Iona, a 2012 NCAA Tournament at-large selection, drops to 2-2 overall.
Joining Humes in double figures were the Flames' three senior starters - point guard Gary Talton (17 points), guard Daniel Barnes (16) and center Josh Crittle(13). Talton also dished out seven assists against just one turnover, while Barnes pulled down a career-high eight rebounds, as did Humes. Iona was led by Lamont Jones, who scored 22 points on 10 field goals.
The Flames' 86 points marks its highest single-game scoring output since Nov. 15, 2010 when the Flames defeated Roosevelt, 94-54. UIC also improved to 4-2 in neutral site games under third-year head coach Howard Moore.
"This was a tremendous win for our program; I'm extremely proud of my players," said Moore. "This group has a lot of heart, and has gained some valuable togetherness on this trip. They didn't want to let each other down tonight, and they played for each other.
"Hayden (Humes) played a great game tonight; his play in the second half was the difference. He worked extremely hard last spring and summer, and it's all coming together for him early on this season."
There were a combined 13 ties and lead changes in the game, including 10 in the first half. The Gaels grabbed the early advantage, tallying leads of 4-0, 11-6 and 18-15 in the first nine minutes. The Flames went on a commanding 11-0 run over a two-minute span mid-way through the stanza, claiming a 27-21 lead with 8:00 showing on the clock. Sophomore guard Joey Miller, Crittle, Barnes and sophomore guard Jay Parkerall had field goals in the spurt.
Iona answered with an 8-1 spree, taking a 29-28 lead with 3:56 left in the opening half. Miller answered with a three to put UIC back in front (31-29) on the ensuing possession, but the Gaels ended the frame on a 9-2 run, taking a 38-33 lead into the locker room at halftime. Sean Armand, who scored 20 points in the game, converted a tip-in as time expired to push Iona's lead to two possessions.
Iona extended its lead to eight points twice in the opening 2:07 of the second half, but UIC stayed close after a pair of field goals from Humes, including a three that sliced the Gaels' lead to 50-46 with 16:07 remaining. In the opening 4:58 of the second half, Barnes and Humes combined for 15 points on six field goals, and keeping the Flames within four, 52-48, at the first media timeout (15:02).
Iona's lead remained no larger than two possessions over the ensuing five-plus minutes, before the Gaels put together a 9-0 run to claim a 70-58 lead with 6:57 remaining. UIC responded with a commanding 12-0 spurt, spearheaded by back-to-back three-pointers by Humes and Talton to pull the Flames within six, 70-64, with 6:09 left.
After a timeout by Iona, UIC forced two defensive stops, and Talton converted a conventional three-point play in transition to slice the Gaels' lead to just three, 70-67. The Flames forced a turnover on the other end, and Talton completed the comeback (70-70) with a transition three.
UIC claimed its first lead (74-73) of the second half with 2:25 remaining, after sophomore Marc Brownconverted a pair of free throws. Armand missed a three-pointer on the ensuing possession, and Humes took advantage, drilling a triple from the top of the key to push the UIC's lead to two possessions, 77-73 with 1:43 remaining. The Flames never surrendered the lead down the stretch, converting nine free throws in the final 39 seconds. Both Crittle and Talton were 4-for-4 from the charity stripe during the game's waning seconds.
UIC will return home on Saturday (Nov. 24), when the Flames host Southeast Missouri at the Pavilion beginning at 3:00 p.m. CST.