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McCammon puts daggers in Flames

UIC CAN’T OVERCOME RAMBLER’S CAREER NIGHT

January 15, 2010

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Loyola junior Geoff McCammon scored a career-best 26 points on Friday night.

Geoff McCammon was a late bloomer in high school. Now he’s starting to show that same characteristic as a junior at Loyola.

After rarely playing in his first two seasons with the Ramblers, McCammon hit six three-pointers and scored a career-best 26 points as Loyola escaped the UIC Pavilion with a 55-50 victory on Friday night.

McCammon, who played at Conant High School in Hoffman Estates, was recruited by UIC before choosing the Ramblers.

“He had a heck of a game,” UIC coach Jimmy Collins said. “We knew he could shoot it, but I think tonight was he was on top of his game. He is the type of guard that you aspire to have. He’s a big guard, he can shoot the ball, he’s strong, he’s aggressive.”

McCammon said that he didn’t anything to prove other than to get a much-needed victory for the Ramblers (12-5, 3-4 Horizon League).

“I just wanted to win this game,” McCammon said. “It was a big win for our team.”

McCammon’s biggest shot came with 3:20 left in the game when he buried a three after the Ramblers drained 30 seconds on the shot clock. It put Loyola up by six, 52-46, and the Flames chasing for the remainder of the contest.

“It was definitely a deflating shot,” said UIC guard Robo Kreps, who had 20 points to lead UIC (5-12, 1-6). “There were a lot of ups and downs in the game tonight. They just made a few more plays at the end.”

The Flames didn’t do very much in the final 8½ minutes, missing their final 12 shots from the field.

Kreps hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 46-46 with 8:39 remaining, but Loyola slammed the door with a couple of timely shots and some solid defense.

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Junior guard Robo Kreps led the Flames with 20 points.

Sophomore point guard Courtney Stanley (six points, seven assists) hit a driving layup with 6:29 to put the Ramblers ahead for good.

The Flames whittled the deficit down to 53-50 after Kreps made two free throws with 1:55 to play.

UIC made a couple of defensive stops, but the offensive could not convert. Kreps missed a layup and a three-pointer in the final minute, but the Flames had one last chance after Stanley missed two free throws.

Zavion Neely, looking for contact, missed a layup attempt with six seconds to play, but Brad Birton grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled as his follow attempt rimmed out with 4.4 seconds to go.

Birton missed the first free throw and committed a lane violation when trying to miss the second on purpose. McCammon was fouled on the inbounds and capped his career game with two free throws.

“There were definitely some shots there,” said senior forward Jeremy Buttell, who had eight points and seven rebounds. “Loyola did pressure us, but we did have some good counters. We had some good shots, but we just couldn’t hit them when it came time. … We gave it our best.”

UIC led by as many as five points in the first half. Kreps hit a three-pointer with 33.3 seconds before halftime as the Flames took a 30-28 lead into the break.

McCammon, who kept Loyola in the game with 13 first-half points, hit back-to-back three-pointers to ignite a 14-4 run to start the second half. Senior Marcus Thomas added two threes of his own and Walt Gibler closed the spurt with a layup to give the Ramblers a 42-34 advantage with 13:02 to play.

Kreps answered with two three-pointers in a 12-4 run to bring the Flames back into a 46-46 tie.

“I thought both teams played with incredible effort and intensity,” Loyola coach Jim Whitesell said. “[The rivalry] is really special. It’s like our version of Army-Navy or Bears-Packers.”

The Flames were out-rebounded 41-31 for the game and shot just 5-for-27 (19 percent) in the second half as they lost their fourth straight.

“It was the kind of game that we expected, but our team just didn’t live up to their part,” Collins said. “We’ve got a long way in terms of understanding how to win. I think Loyola did what they had to do to win.”

UIC Athletics

Poston

POSTON OFFICIALLY DONE, OTHERS LEAVE: Sophomore forward Jelani Poston, who UIC had hoped would regain eligibility for the spring semester, couldn’t overcome a difficult fall and thus won’t be returning to the Flames.

Poston showed some great potential as a freshman, averaging 3.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 15 games. He had a career night at Cleveland State on Jan. 10, 2009 with 14 points and seven rebounds.

Poston missed the final month of last season sitting out because he broke an unspecified team rule.

Also officially off the roster are junior guard Austin Hood, freshman guard Arthur Wiley, junior forward Mylin Northern and sophomore forward Ryan Sligh.

Hood played in six games, averaging 2.5 points. Wiley played in two games off the bench early in the season. Northern did not complete his junior college requirements and was likely wasn’t going to be able to qualify for future eligibility.

FLAMES FLICKERS: Birton had a game-high 10 rebounds, including eight offensive, for the Flames. … Freshman Ben Averkamp had eight rebounds and five blocks to help spearhead Loyola’s defense. … Kreps’ free throw streak ended at 32 when he missed his second try with 13:22 left in the first half. … Loyola had 16 turnovers to UIC’s nine. … The Ramblers’ victory snapped a five-game losing streak in the series. … The game drew 5,666 fans for the ESPNU telecast, a season-high for attendance at the Pavilion.

UP NEXT: UIC hosts Valparaiso at the Pavilion on Thursday night. Tip time is 7 p.m. with coverage on the Horizon League Network, WMVP-AM 1000 and espnchicago.com.

In other recent news:
Road still unkind to Flames (at Cleveland St.) (1/10/10)
Buttell's big night can't save UIC (at Youngstown St.) (1/8/10)
Flames look listless, lost (vs. Wright St.) (1/3/10)
Kreps gets free ride as Flames beat Titans (vs. Detroit) (12/31/09)
Neely flips switch, Flames burn Rockets (vs. Toledo) (12/30/09)
Coal in Flames’ stockings (at Wisconsin) (12/28/09)
Zips dominate boards, extinguish Flames (at Akron) (12/22/09)
Flames take bite out of Huskies (vs. NIU) (12/20/09)
Kreps finishes off Flames' comeback (vs. Oregon St.) (12/17/09)