Slow start too much
Flames rally, but can't close out IUPUI
By Mike Pankow
January 7, 2019
The Flames got a late wakeup call, quickly trailed by double digits, rallied back for the lead before slipping behind again and fell just short thanks in part to a controversial call in the final seconds. At the final buzzer, the visiting Jaguars escaped with a 66-64 victory.
The Flames (7-9, 1-2 Horizon League) turned the ball over five times in the first four minutes and didn't score for over six minutes while falling behind 10-0.
Godwin Boahen, who hit a career-best six 3-pointers and finished with 18 points, finally opened the scoring for UIC with his first trey at the 13:45 mark.
"We started out horrible," Boahen said. "You can’t win a game when you don't score for six minutes. We tried to fight back and we put up a good fight, but it just wasn't enough."
The Flames did fight back, pulling to within 29-25 at halftime after trailing by as many as 11.
UIC started the second half on a 10-2 run capped by another 3-pointer by Boahen to take its largest lead of the game at 35-31 with 17:43 remaining.
However, graduate transfer Camron Justice, who came to IUPUI from Vanderbilt, hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight points during a 13-2 burst to give the Jaguars (9-7, 1-2) a 44-37 lead.
Justice was a pain the entire game, hitting six 3-pointers and finishing with a career-high 30 points.
"The game plan with Justice was to make him drive, because we know he likes to shoot 3s," Boahen said. "We did horrible on that today, because he went 6-for-9. We just have to go back to the lab and the next time we face them come up with a different defensive scheme."
Ottey's layup put UIC back ahead 51-49 with 6:00 left, but the Jaguars answered with an 11-1 run that included a back-breaking buzzer-beating 3 by Justice for a 60-52 lead with 1:55 left.
The Flames went 4:30 without a field goal until Tarkus Ferguson (15 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) hit a 3-pointer.
UIC pulled to within 60-59 with 41.6 seconds left after Marcus Ottey (15 points) buried a 3-pointer after a steal by Ferguson.
The Jaguars made four straight free throws, then Boahen drilled another 3-pointer to slice the deficit to 64-62 with 11.2 seconds to play.
Jaylen Minnett split a pair of free throws to keep the door open at 65-62 with 7.5 seconds left.
Ferguson hurried the ball past midcourt, pulled up just past the half-court stripe, anticipating a foul from the IUPUI defense and launched a tying 3-point attempt. Despite TV replays showing that Ferguson appeared to be in the act of shooting, official Kelly Pfeifer was vehement that fouled occurred before the shot.
"You can't review that play," UIC coach Steve McClain explained. "That's a judgment call. It's not like a ball going off somebody's hand or something like that. Kelly is a very good official, and until I see it on tape, he called what he saw."
Ferguson was awarded two free throws since UIC was in the double bonus and made them both, cutting it to 65-64 with 3.6 seconds showing.
After Elyjah Goss split free throws, Ferguson launched a half-court 3-pointer that rolled off the rim at the buzzer, handing the Flames just their second home loss of the season in eight tries.
"I give IUPUI a lot of credit, they had a good game plan," McClain said. "We let [Justice] get in a rhythm early. When you get down early, you use a lot of energy fighting back. I give our kids credit, we fought back hard. Then the game became a possession-by-possession game and we had too many empty opportunities."
FLAMES FLICKERS: The Flames finished with 14 turnovers after having five in the initial four minutes. IUPUI, meanwhile, committed 20. ... It was IUPUI's first-ever win against UIC in six all-time meetings. ... Both teams shot around 38 percent from the field for the game, but IUPUI made 18 free throws to UIC's 10. ... The Jaguars outrebounded the Flames 42-30. Goss had a game-high 11 for IUPUI. The rebounding has been a season-long concern for UIC. "Our bigs have got to rebound," McClain said. "It isn't a lack of trying, they've just have to get better at it." ... Sophomore forward Jacob Wiley has seen his minutes increase in recent games. He has averaged 16.5 minutes over the last four games while averaging 6.0 points and 4.8 rebounds in that span. "He's been going harder in practice," Boahen said. "We've been on him since he was a freshman, because we see the potential in him. Now as he's getting older, he has a sense of pride about himself and he's putting in the work. We've seen a lot of growth in J-Dub." ... Junior forward Jordan Blount fouled out of his third straight game and has five disqualifications this season.