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White, Mayo help Flames secure double-OT win


January 13, 2008

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Josh Mayo scored nine of his 20 points in the two overtime periods to help the Flames defeat Loyola.

Still struggling to adapt without point guard Spencer Stewart in the lineup, UIC reached down and pulled out a much-needed win on Saturday night

Senior guard Karl White Jr. kept the Flames in the game and junior guard Josh Mayo helped put the finishing touches on the 78-68 Horizon League victory over Loyola in double overtime at the UIC Pavilion.

White scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half to help rally the Flames (9-7, 3-2) before fouling out with 1:11 left in regulation as UIC snapped a three-game skid. White also had five assists and three rebounds and created plenty of havoc on defense.

Mayo scored nine of his team-high 20 points in the overtime periods, including a big three-pointer in the first extra session and four game-clinching free throws in the second. He also had a game-high seven assists.

“I thought we did some things down the stretch in the second overtime that really showed some courage and some togetherness,” UIC coach Jimmy Collins said. “They really picked it up a notch.”

Collins knew his tired Flames needed to tighten up a few things.

“The first thing we talked about [before the second overtime] was ball protection,” Collins said. “We talked keeping energy level up and our defense had to improve, because it appeared that Loyola scored when they wanted.”

With the score tied at 61-61 entering the second OT, the Flames went to work, taking the lead on Scott VanderMeer’s tip-in with 3:58 to play. On UIC’s next possession with the shot-clock winding down, Mayo escaped pressure defense and fed Jeremy Buttell, who hit a turnaround fadeaway jumper for a four-point lead.

With 2:26 to play, Loyola’s J.R. Blount attempted to take a charge from Mayo, but was called for his fifth and final foul.

Mayo missed the front end of the 1-and-1 at the foul line, but freshman Tori Boyd swiped the offensive rebound. Moments later after some crisp ball movement, senior Robert Bush drove home the dagger with a three-pointer for a 68-61 advantage with just over 2 minutes remaining.

Loyola (5-11, 1-5) never got any closer than five points after that as UIC outscored the Ramblers 17-7 in the second OT.

“They just made a couple more plays in the end than we did,” said Blount, who had a game-high 23 points for the Ramblers, which dropped their fourth straight.

The Ramblers opened up an eight-point lead in the first half before settling for a 25-23 lead at intermission. Blount had 15 points in the first half to lead the charge.

After Loyola grabbed a 33-29 on Leon Young’s hook shot with 16:03 left in the second half, White became possessed and spearheaded a 15-6 run to turn the tide.

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Karl White Jr. keyed the Flames’ rally in the second half with his defense and his quickness.

White had a direct influence on all 15 points in the spurt. He started off with a three-pointer and a feed to Bush for a layup, which gave UIC a 34-33 advantage – its first lead since 2-0.

“Karl was able to disrupt them and we picked off passes and guys found him going down the floor,” Collins said.

After two free throws by Justin Cerasoli (21 points), White hit a 15-footer to give the Flames the lead back. Then White turned on the afterburners, scoring three layups on the fast break, including one moments after a VanderMeer blocked shot, and hitting Buttell with a pass that led to another layup. After the smoke cleared, the Flames led 44-39.

“He really got out there on the defensive end and made plays,” Mayo said. “He was on the fast break a lot and making open buckets and that’s what we need him to do.”

Loyola’s Tracy Robinson hit a three-point to forge a 48-48 tie with 5:46 to play in regulation, but Mayo splashed in a NBA three moments later to give the Flames the lead back.

Bush canned a trey with 2:57 for a 54-49 lead, but the lead wouldn’t last.

In the final two minutes, the Flames received a major scare when Mayo was called for an offensive foul and, in the process, dislocated his left pinkie in the progress. UIC trainer Mike Gilmartin popped the finger back into place and taped two of the fingers together to protect the pinkie.

Mayo sat for a few seconds, but White was called for an offensive foul with 1:11 left, disqualifying White from the game. Mayo then returned to replace White.

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Loyola's J.R. Blount nailed a clutch three-pointer to force overtime.

Mayo hit two free throws to put UIC up 56-53 with 15.1 seconds to play in regulation, but Blount answered with a three-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 56-56. The Flames had one final chance, but Mayo’s three-point attempt was deflected by Robinson at the buzzer.

In the first overtime, Mayo scored all five Flames points and Cerasoli notched all five Ramblers points. Mayo tied the score at 61-61 with a runner off the glass with 1:13 to play.

UIC had the ball with 36.5 seconds left in the period and a chance to take the final shot, but Mayo threw away the inbounds pass. Loyola ran the clock down, but missed three attempts, including Blount’s off-balance 17-footer at the buzzer.

The victory wasn’t all White and Mayo as VanderMeer, UIC’s 7-footer, contributed a solid night of 13 points, a career-best 15 rebounds and four blocks in 46 grueling minutes.

“We’ve been trying to get the ball down to our big fella down low,” said White of the Flames’ game plan. “Coach [Collins] has really been stressing for us to play more inside-out rather than outside-in.”

Mayo added that VanderMeer was willing to push his limits.

“He wouldn’t let Coach take him out,” Mayo said. “Coach kept asking him if he needed a blow, and Scott said he was fine.”

Buttell also played a gritty 38 minutes, tallying four points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Bush added 10 points and five rebounds off the bench.

Collins was pleased with the progress the Flames were making without Stewart, who will miss at least two more weeks with a broken finger.

“They are making adjustments,” Collins said. “When you lose someone as important to your offense as Spencer, there’s going to be a period of adjustment. This win is extremely important and I hope it builds our confidence.”

UIC out-rebounded the Ramblers 48-38, including 20-13 on the offensive end, leading to 25 second-chance points for the Flames, a point Loyola coach Jim Whitesell bemoaned after the game.

“Their second-chance points really hurt us a lot,” said Whitesell, adding that his leading rebounder, Young, who had missed the last four games with pneumonia, could play for long stretches.

“No excuses,” Whitesell said. “We’d love to have [Young]. Hopefully, he’ll round back to his old self. He’s had (only) a couple of practices, so we knew he was going to be winded at times. That’s why we went with [Andy] Polka and [Tom] Levin at the end. We had some problems rebounding the basketball and we had some crucial turnovers.”

In the end, Collins wasn’t surprised with the intensity the local rivalry brings.

“It was a very physical game that could have gone either way. We talked about that before the game: Forget about the records, it’s Loyola and UIC and it’s always a hard-fought game.”

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Jermaine Dailey left the game with an injured left leg.

IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?: UIC had some injury scares during the game, but nothing was worse than senior forward Jermaine Dailey leaving the game in the first half with a sore left knee and ankle. Dailey dove after a loose ball with 6:51 before halftime when Blount landed on the back of Dailey’s leg.

Dailey limped off the court and did not return. He played six active minutes off the bench, scoring four points and grabbing two rebounds. He will have an MRI in the coming days to determine the extent of the injury.

When Mayo crashed to the floor late in the regulation and dislocated his pinkie, a Lakeshore Public TV camera got a close-up view of the finger, which was bent slightly askew. Upon seeing Mayo’s finger, White grimaced and covered his eyes.

Amazingly, Mayo was 2-for-4 from the field and 6-for-7 from the free-throw after having two fingers on his left hand taped together after the pinkie was reset. He was 3-for-15 from the field prior to the mishap.

Bush also suffered a cramp in his left leg with 9:10 left in the game, but he did return.

FLAMES FLICKERS: It was the first overtime game of the season for the Flames and the first multiple OT game for UIC since the four-overtime win over Milwaukee on Jan. 11, 2001. In UIC’s four-overtime victory, Jon-Pierre Mitchom scored 33 points. Milwaukee’s coach at the time? Current Wisconsin Badgers boss Bo Ryan. …

It was Loyola’s first multiple OT game since a two-overtime game against Milwaukee just three days after that UIC contest. …

In his last four games, White is shooting 60 percent (27-for-45) from the field after an 8-for-12 performance on Saturday night. …

When he missed the back end of two free throws just under minute into the second half, Mayo’s streak of 44 straight made free throws at the Pavilion came to an end. …

UIC’s Robert Kreps played 23 minutes, including most of the overtime periods, but he didn’t score until he hit a runner with 45.2 seconds left in the second overtime. He also hit two free throws for the final margin.

Only eight players scored in the first half – four from each team – as Loyola took a 25-23 lead into the locker room. …

Loyola’s Darrin Williams scored all six of his points in the first three minutes of the second half, but for some reason, Whitesell rarely used the 6-foot-8 junior forward after that.

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