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Pounded on the inside

FLAMES NO MATCH FOR VALPO IN PAINT

January 9, 2015

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Senior Ahman Fells scored in double figures for the fourth straight game on Thursday.

UIC entered Thursday night's game at Valparaiso with two post men in street clothes and the one that was healthy ended up stuck in extensive foul trouble.

It was really simple for coach Bryce Drew and the host Crusaders: Use their superior size and depth to push the ball inside.

Six-foot-10, 245-pound senior big man Vashil Fernandez hit all six of his field-goal attempts to register a career-best 15 points as the Crusaders pulled away for an 85-56 victory at the Athletics-Recreation Center.

Fernandez also grabbed eight rebounds and recorded four blocked shots for the Crusaders (15-3, 2-1 Horizon League), who beat UIC for the 12th straight time.

Darien Walker scored 13 points, Tevonn Walker and Alec Peters each notched 11 points and Jubril Adekoya added 10 points for Valpo, which shot 60.4 percent and outscored UIC 50-14 in the paint.

“We were outplayed in every facet of the game,” UIC coach Howard Moore said. “We are down a few guys right now but that’s no excuse. We will take the weekend to adjust a few things and come ready to play Detroit next week.”

Senior forward Ahman Fells recorded his fourth consecutive double-digit scoring effort with a team-high 13 points, including three 3-point baskets, for the Flames (5-13, 1-2).

Jay Harris, who played his first two seasons at Valpo, faced his former team for the first time. He finished with eight points on 3-for-9 shooting in 22 minutes. Markese McGuire, who hails from Elkhart, Ind., which is about 70 miles east of Valpo, added eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers.

The Flames were behind from the start in the personnel department as freshman center Tai Odiase (right leg) missed his fifth straight game and junior forward Jason McClellan (concussion) sat out his second straight contest.

However, UIC had a nice early burst. Harris nailed a 3-pointer to give the Flames a 12-8 lead just over four minutes into the game.

Peters converted a three-point play during a 7-0 run that put Valpo ahead.

Fells hit a jumper in the lane as the Flames trailed just 24-20 with 10:37 left in the first half, but UIC began to struggle offensively with both forward Jake Wiegand and Harris picking up two early fouls apiece.

With Wiegand on the bench, the Crusaders pounded the ball inside mercilessly. Fernandez finished the first half with 11 points on 5-for-5 from the field. Valpo took a 47-32 lead at the half, closing the period with six straight points, including two baskets by Fernandez and a transition layup by Peters.

“Fernandez was aggressive especially in the early part of the game,” Moore said. “That was obviously their strategy tonight and it worked out.”

Valpo put the hammer down with a 19-9 run to start the second half, capped by a basket by Fernandez for a 66-41 advantage with 12:13 left.

FLAMES FLICKERS: With his missed free throw with 4:26 left in the first half, Harris' consecutive free-throw streak ended at 31, seven behind Josh Mayo's school mark. ... Wiegand wound up with four points and three rebounds in just 12 minutes of action. ... Valpo was missing its starting point guard Keith Carter (Proviso East High School) because of injury. ... UIC shot 40 percent in the first half to stay close for about 15 minutes, but finished at 32.8 percent for the game. ... Valpo outrebounded UIC 40-32. ... Each team committed just eight turnovers. ... Nine of the 10 Flames who played scored, including sophomore Hans-Christian Lauer, who finished with four points and five rebounds in a career-high 23 minutes. ... All nine Valpo players scored. ... UIC's last win against Valpo came Feb. 15, 2009 as Mayo and current graduate manager Robo Kreps combined for 50 points in an 83-76 victory at the ARC.

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