Flames Drop 70-54 Decision at Western Illinois

Josh Crittle
Josh Crittle

Dec. 18, 2012

Western Illinois 70, UIC 54Get Acrobat Reader

CHICAGO - Sophomore guard Joey Miller came off the bench to score a season-high 15 points, but the UIC men's basketball team saw its eight-game winning streak come to an end, 70-54 inside Waste Management Court at Western Hall Tuesday night. The Leathernecks out-scored the Flames 45-27 in the second half to win their fifth-straight game.

With the loss, UIC moved to 9-2, including 2-1 record in road games. WIU, who was idle from competition for the previous 10 days, improved to 8-3 overall. UIC's aforementioned eight-game winning streak was its longest since the 1997-98 season.

Miller's 15 points represented his best all-around game at UIC - he also scored 14 points in the season opener against UC Riverside. Senior center Josh Crittle chipped in 14 points, including an 8-for-10 effort from the free throw line, to join Miller in double figures. Western Illinois was led by Terell Parks, who tallied a double-double with a game-high 19 points (8-11) and 11 rebounds.

"Western did a good job of getting into us tonight, and we struggled to get ourselves going, particularly in the second half," said head coach Howard Moore. "They (WIU) definitely looked like the fresher and sharper team. After we built the double-digit lead late in the first half, we didn't do a good job of executing. We got away from what we do a little bit, and Western took advantage of that."

UIC jumped out to an early 10-1 lead, thanks to six quick points from Crittle and three turnovers by the Leathernecks. Miller hit a three from the left corner, his second field goal of the game, to give UIC its first double-digit advantage (15-5) with 10:28 remaining. Western Illinois scored the next five points of the game, but UIC countered with another convincing 9-3 run to build a 24-13 lead at the 5:02 mark.

Sophomore center Will Simonton converted the Flames' last field goal of the frame with 3:14 remaining, as the Leathernecks finished the first half on a 12-3 spurt. After Miller missed a three with time winding down, the long rebound was corralled by Don McAvoy. He had a clear path to the basket, but was aggressively fouled by Daniel Barnes with less than one second showing on the clock. McAvoy converted both free throws to trim UIC's lead to just two (27-25) heading into the locker room at halftime.

Western Illinois claimed a 31-30 lead with 18:07 remaining in the second half, and never trailed again. Between the 17:06 and 13:33 marks, the Leathernecks went on a 7-2 run to take a six-point (40-34) lead. Moore called a timeout, but WIU kept the pressure on, building a 47-34 lead with 10:41 left.

After falling behind by as many 15 points, UIC pulled within a 10-point margin five times between the 6:55 and 3:48 marks, and was within nine (55-46) with 5:10 remaining after a pair of converted free throws by Crittle. But WIU settled for trading buckets, eventually building its lead back to 14 points (62-48) with 2:37 remaining.

UIC will continue on its three-game road trip Saturday, when the Flames travel to Oxford, Ohio to take on Miami (Ohio). Tip-off from Millett Hall is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CST. The RedHawks are 3-5 on the season, and will travel to the Nutter Center to take on Horizon League foe Wright State Wednesday night.