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Technically speaking


January 26, 2015

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Ahman Fells poured in a career-high 20 points against Milwaukee on Thursday night.

MILWAUKEE--Victory was within UIC's grasp on Thursday night.

The Flames put together one of their better efforts of the season, competing hard until the final seconds before Milwaukee took a 71-65 victory at UWM Panther Arena.

Matt Tiby scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and Steve McWhorter added 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting for the Panthers (8-14, 3-5 Horizon League), who made a few more big plays down the stretch than the Flames (5-17, 1-6), who dropped their sixth straight.

Neither team led by more than seven points and UIC was within two points in the final minute before Panthers freshman Justin Jordan, nephew of Michael Jordan, drained a back-breaking 3-pointer with 19.8 seconds remaining.

"It was a big shot, but there were other situations that put us in that position of [being behind]," UIC coach Howard Moore said. "It was disappointing that two seniors had technical fouls. That's unacceptable. We have to be smarter than that, especially on the road. Nothing is going to be handed to you."

Seniors Marc Brown and Ahman Fells were whistled for technical fouls. And Tiby converted all four of the resulting free throws.

Fells' technical, which came with 6:51 left in the game after the officials perceived that he was taunting following a nifty tip-in basket.

The technical took away from what was otherwise a big night from Fells, who scored a career-best 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting to go with eight rebounds.

"Fells had a great game, but I told him it was a shame that you negated that by getting a technical," Moore said. "Obviously I'm upset, and I don't want to criticize the officials, but that was such a huge call there."

Junior guard Paris Burns contributed 16 points and fifth-year senior Jay Harris added 11 points for the Flames, who have dropped 11 straight on the road dating to last season.

Fells and the Flames got off to a good start. His 3-pointer capped a 7-0 run as UIC took an 18-12 lead with 7:34 left in the first half.

Milwaukee clawed back to take a 21-20 lead on Cody Wichmann's 3-pointer with 4:30 left. The game seesawed back and forth until Tiby converted a layup with 38 seconds left in the first half to forge a 28-28 tie at the break.

Forward Jason McClellan, making his second straight start, scored UIC's first two baskets of the second half, including a 3-pointer, and Burns splashed home a 15-foot jumper for a 40-34 lead with 16:24 left.

Moore has tried several different lineup combinations in recent games, trying to find healthy bodies and consistent play. The Flames' coach has liked what he has seen from McClellan, who has overcome a hip injury and a concussion this season.

"He's playing hard. He's listening. He's starting to make some shots like I thought he would do, and he's big presence inside, laying on bodies in the post," Moore said of the junior transfer from Fort Collins, Colo. "With the injuries, he had never gotten into a rhythm. Now he's healthy and he's getting good reps for us."

The Panthers fought back as Jordan nailed a 3-pointer as Milwaukee grabbed a 44-43 lead with 12:21 to play.

Wichmann drilled 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, sandwiched around a Burns' 3, to give Milwaukee a 53-50 edge with 8:31 to play.

McWhorter hit a tough step-back jumper for a 63-56 lead with 4:31 to play.

The Panthers still lead by seven until Fells drilled a 3-pointer to cut it to 67-63 with 1:36 left.

After forcing a stop, the Flames pulled to within 67-65 on Burns' two free throws with 51.9 seconds, setting up Jordan's critical 3-pointer.

The Flames shot 42.6 percent while Milwaukee made 43.4 percent of its field goals. Both teams shot better than 81 percent on free throws and the teams were equal with nine turnovers apiece and the rebounding battle was close, but the technicals and the big shot by Jordan were the difference.

"We have to be disciplined, we have to be sharp and we have no room for error," Moore said.

FLAMES FLICKERS: Sophomore walk-on Marcus White made his first career start at the point. White was 0-for-1 from the field and didn't record an assist or turnover in 15 minutes. ... Junior point guard D'Juan Miller was not with the team because of a personal issue, according to a UIC spokesman. His return to the team was undetermined. ... Brown's technical foul came with 14:45 left in the first half when he argued a non-call on a drive to the basket. ... Junior guard Gabe Snider was dressed after sitting out a couple of games with a hip pointer, but he didn't play. ... The Flames' last road win came on Feb. 25, 2014 in Milwaukee when UIC blew out the Panthers 80-58 before Milwaukee went on a run to advance to the NCAA tournament.

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