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Road win evades Flames again

HEARTY EFFORT SCARES VALPO

February 9, 2010

Whoosh! photo

Jeremy Buttell had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Flames at Valparaiso on Monday night.

UIC hoped to bust another streak Monday night—its winless run on the road this season.

Unfortunately, despite a great effort and the team’s best offensive performance of the season, the Flames lost to Valparaiso 83-82 in the Athletics-Recreation Center to fall to 0-12 away from the Pavilion.

In a game featuring 10 ties and nine lead changes, the Crusaders (13-13, 8-6 Horizon League) used 56 percent shooting to hold off the Flames (6-18, 2-12).

Freshman Ryan Broekhoff had 18 points and nine rebounds off the bench to lead Valpo, which also got 18 points from Brandon Wood and 15 points and five assists from Brandon McPherson.

Senior Jeremy Buttell continued his stellar play of late, posting a double-double of 25 points and 12 rebounds while playing the full 40 minutes for UIC.

“I can’t say enough about how well Jeremy has been playing down the stretch,” UIC coach Jimmy Collins said. “He came through and did some wonderful things for us.”

The Flames had four others in double figures led by Robo Kreps’ 17 points and five assists. Chris Buchanan contributed 11 points and three three-pointers and Zavion Neely and Spencer Stewart each added 10 points.

UIC trailed by nine points at 75-66 with 3:19 left, but the Flames made a late charge.

Buttell hit a deep three-pointer to cut the deficit to five and Stewart hit a layup to close the gap to 78-75 with 1:12 left.

The teams traded free throws, but the Flames inched to within 81-79 on two Buchanan free throws with 39.6 seconds to play.

After McPherson hit two free throws for a four-point lead, Kreps missed a close-in shot.

Valpo could not convert from the line, but walk-on Dipanjot Singh, in the game after Neely and Stewart both fouled out, missed a three with 7 seconds left. The Flames got the ball back after a scramble and Kreps drained a three at the buzzer, leaving UIC just one point short.

“I thought we were lackluster tonight, but we found a way to win, which is the sign of a good team,” Valpo coach Homer Drew said. “Our guys answered every call in the last three minutes.”

Things didn’t start too well for UIC, which missed nine of its first 10 shots from the field. Valpo opened up a 12-4 after Broekhoff nailed a three at 13:12 mark of the first half.

The Flames finally found a spark and bounced back with a 15-2 spurt, which culminated in a Buttell three-pointer and 19-14 advantage with 6:02 left before intermission.

McPherson pulled Valpo back even at 31-31 on a jumper with 37 seconds left in the half.

Both teams started out blazing in the second half as UIC hit six of its first nine attempts while the Crusaders made nine of their first 10.

Kreps hit a three-pointer to give the Flames a 51-50 lead with 13:38 remaining in the game, but Valpo answered with a 9-0 run which included five points by Broekhoff. The Crusaders were threatened but never trailed again.

“We’ve worked extremely hard some niches of our game,” Collins said. “We talked about playing tough till the final horn. I’m pleased with the effort.

“Homer’s team did a good job. We had our opportunities, but we didn’t take advantage of them.”

FLAMES FLICKERS: Kreps is six points short of becoming the 20th Flame to join the 1,000-point club. … The Flames have had three disqualifications in the last two games—center K.C. Robbins on Saturday and Neely and Stewart on Monday. … Neely had four steals for the second straight game. … UIC shot 44 percent from the field and tied the Crusaders with 34 rebounds apiece. The Flames did grab more offensive boards, holding a 12-8 edge.

In other recent news:
Flames exhale, snap 9-game skid (vs. Youngstown St.) (2/7/10)
Shakeup can’t end Flames’ slide (vs. Cleveland St.) (2/5/10)
Close, but no cigar for Flames (at Detroit) (1/31/10)
Deep funk continues (at Wright St.) (1/29/10)
Hayward's star continues to rise (vs. Butler) (1/23/10)
Robbins emerges, but Crusaders too tough (vs. Valpo) (1/22/10)
McCammon puts daggers in Flames (vs. Loyola, plus roster news) (1/15/10)
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)