Another efficient game for Mayo
FLAMES CRUISE PAST PENGUINS
February 3, 2008
Junior guard Josh Mayo did a “heat check” and buried three consecutive three-pointers in the midst of turning the tide back to the Flames on Saturday night at the Pavilion.
Mayo scored 16 of his game-high 21 points in the second half as the Flames coasted to an 86-72 victory over Youngstown State.
UIC (12-10, 6-5) won its second straight game and pulled within one game of second place in a tightly-packed Horizon League race.
After the Flames led by as many as 18 points, YSU pulled to within 48-41 with 15:04 remaining in the game. Mayo hit his first triple of the second half to extend UIC’s lead back to 10.
The Penguins (7-15, 3-9) then cut the lead to 51-45 after a Jack Liles’ layup, but Mayo nailed two treys on consecutive possessions to kick the advantage back up to 12 and into double digits for good. Mayo knew he was starting to find a rhythm.
“Every team’s going to make a run,” said Mayo, who shot 5-for-7 from the field and 7-for-8 from the free-throw line. “It’s whether or not you can withstand it. I was looking for my shot. When I hit the first one, I said “heat check” on the second one. When I hit the second one, I said “heat check” on the third one. My teammates got me the ball in the right spot and I was able to knock them down.”
Mayo finished with four three-pointers for the third consecutive game. He is now shooting 56 percent from three-point range on the season.
“He has a great knack of getting open and he has a quick release,” UIC sophomore point guard Spencer Stewart said.
Mayo had just five points in the first half, but his teammates provided more than enough support as the Flames took a 42-28 lead into the locker room.
Freshman Robert Kreps led the way with 11 points in the opening half after having only double-figure scoring game out of the Flames’ previous eight contests.
“I wanted to go out there with a little chip on my shoulder,” Kreps said.
Even with a big lead, it was only a matter of time before Mayo heated up.
“If I had to vote right now for Player of the Year in our conference, Mayo would be the guy,” YSU coach Jerry Slocum said. “He’s having a great year in carrying this group.”
Saturday was more than just Mayo though as five Flames reached double figures in scoring. Kreps finished with 15 points, while Karl White Jr. added 11 and Robert Bush and Scott VanderMeer contributed 10 points apiece.
Stewart handed out a career-best nine assists as UIC totaled 21 assists on 31 field goals. Stewart also had five points in the first half to help the Flames build an early lead.
“I think I’m getting back into shape, which is making things a lot easier,” said Stewart, who played in his fourth game since returning from his left hand injury.
The Flames’ offense is beginning to resemble the attack that ignited a five-game winning streak back in December.
“Spencer Stewart’s the difference,” Mayo said. “He really helps us move the ball a lot better. He’s a great leader. He really helped us on defense and brought us together as a team.”
The Flames improved to 10-1 at home and kept their Pavilion shooting percentage above 50 percent on the season after a 52-percent night from the field.
After pouring in 26 points against UIC last month in Youngstown, Penguins freshman Vytas Sulskis did not score in the first half. Sulskis notched all of his team-high 18 points after halftime. Liles added 16 points off the bench for the Penguins, who stopped being aggressive on offense midway through the first half.
“There’s one team that shot 37 percent and settled for 29 threes and that team’s going home with a loss,” said Slocum on his team’s performance.
Ignjatovic suffered from a nasty case of the flu a couple of weeks ago and finally seems to be 100 percent again.
“Jovan came in and gave us a spark,” Collins said. “I tell these guys that he’s probably our best offensive post player. Of late, he’s also starting to play some pretty solid defense. He’s probably the only post guy we got that will take a charge. I think his time will start elevating.”
For the season, Ignjatovic is averaging 2.7 points and 1.6 rebounds in 10.8 minutes per game over 18 contests.
FLAMES FLICKERS: With his 21 points, Mayo tied Larry Frey (1965-69) for 17th place on UIC’s all-time scoring list. Mayo now has 1,048 points. If he hits for 20 or more at Loyola next Saturday, he will pass Craig Lathen (1981-85) and Bobby Locke (1985-87) and land in 15th place. …
Senior forward Jermaine Dailey also had a solid outing for the Flames, scoring eight points and grabbing six rebounds. He also had an alley-oop dunk on a lob from Stewart. …
VanderMeer did not start, because Collins said he missed practice on Friday. Freshman forward Tori Boyd also missed practice and was benched for the entire game. Collins’ policy for missing practice is that starters don’t start and reserves usually don’t play. …
The YSU bench was yelling at the officials for most of the game, but head official Tim Hutchinson took exception at one of the Penguins’ assistants. Usually, referees will grant the head coach leeway with grievances, but when assistant coach Michael Wernicki kept barking, Hutchinson came with a warning and said, “You’ve had something to say on every call tonight.” …
Coaches on both teams wore gym shoes to support “Coaches vs. Cancer.”