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Raiders steal victory from Flames

UIC CAN’T HOLD LATE 6-POINT LEAD

February 17, 2008

Photo: www.wsuraiders.com

Freshman forward Cooper Land hit two free-throws to give WSU the 1-point win.

Wright State is used to these close games even if it doesn’t show in coach Brad Brownell’s hair color.

The Raiders scored nine of the game’s final 11 points, including two go-ahead free-throws by freshman Cooper Land with 6.9 seconds left, as they pulled out a 52-51 victory at the Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio on Saturday night.

“I haven’t really seen any gray hair,” Brownell said. “My hair’s fine. It’s the other parts of my body that I’m worried about.”

It was the 10th straight win for WSU (19-6, 11-4 Horizon League), nine of those came by less than 10 points. In fact, the Raiders started their streak with a 76-75 win at UIC on Jan. 17. The margins of victory in the run have been: 1, 1, 9, 4, 2, 16, 6, 3, 4 and 1.

WSU’s streak was in serious jeopardy as Josh Mayo swished his fourth three-pointer of the game with 4:07 remaining to give UIC a 49-43 advantage.

“I was hoping that the guys feel like they’ve been here before,” Brownell said. “I hoped that they drew from their positive experiences. We just needed to get within one possession.”

Jordan Pleiman scored on the Raiders’ next possession to cut the deficit to four. UIC had a chance to increase the lead again, but Jermaine Dailey missed two free throws with 2:38 to play.

Todd Brown made a tip-in to slice the margin to two and connected on a three-pointer from the corner with just under a minute left to give the Raiders a 50-49 edge.

“[Freshman] Troy [Tabler] kept telling me, ‘You’re going to hit the big shot,’ ” Brown said of his teammate’s faith in the rising sophomore star.

After a timeout, the Flames regain a 51-50 lead when Scott VanderMeer put back a miss by Mayo with 19 seconds to go.

WSU immediately came down the floor and Land caught a pass on the baseline. VanderMeer was late in rotating and fouled Land near the basket. The freshman calmly hit both free throws for the 52-51 advantage.

After a timeout, Mayo passed the ball to Spencer Stewart, who had the ball tipped away by Brown. Mayo recovered and flung a 75-footer that grazed the front of the rim just after the buzzer sounded.

It was another close win for WSU and the Raiders’ defense did their part in slowing down the Horizon League’s top offense, getting key stops in the final minutes.

“We pride ourselves on defense,” WSU guard Will Graham said. “If we’re into it on defense, we know the offense will come.”

The Raiders somehow pulled out the win despite shooting just 33 percent from the field. They made 9 of 14 free throws compared to 2 of 4 for UIC. WSU turned the ball over just eight times and grabbed 11 offensive rebounds.

“We did enough good things to win without shooting the ball well,” Brownell said.

Whoosh! photo

UIC’s Josh Mayo hit four three-pointers, but it wasn’t enough for the Flames.

The Flames jumped out to an 18-10 lead, thanks to six inside points by VanderMeer. The opening spree was capped by Stewart’s three-pointer with 10:03 left in the first half.

UIC scored just four more points in the opening half, going nearly 10 minutes without a field goal. Freshman Tori Boyd scored on a putback to give the Flames a 22-21 lead at intermission.

WSU went on a 10-2 run early in the second half, which included four points apiece from Vaughn Duggins and Scottie Wilson, to take a 37-32 lead with 13:03 to play.

UIC grabbed a 40-38 edge on a three-pointer by freshman Robert Kreps with 10:56 remaining. The Flames held on to that lead until the final minute of the game.

Brown led the Raiders with 14 points and four assists. Duggins added 11 points and Wilson contributed a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Mayo led the Flames with a game-high 16 points, 14 of which came in the second half. VanderMeer finished with 10 points, while Robert Bush grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and Stewart had six assists.

“We have to go back to the drawing board,” UIC coach Jimmy Collins said. “This was a very important game for us and both teams played hard. They just hit the shots when they needed them.”

FLAMES FLICKERS: WSU’s 10 straight wins are a Division I school record and the Raiders have won four straight from UIC – their longest win streak against the Flames. …

WSU is now 5-0 in one-point games this season, 7-2 in games decided by three points or less and 16-4 in games decided by 10 points or less. …

Of its 16 wins against UIC, five of them have come by just one point, including both meetings this season. WSU beat UIC 61-60 on Alex Kock’s last-second shot in 2004. WSU downed 63-62 in 2002 when Jordan Kardos missed a jumper at the buzzer. The most memorable one-point outcome was the Raiders’ stunning 74-73 win in the 1998 MCC tournament in Green Bay against a 22-win Flames squad. …

The loss eliminated UIC from any chance at the No. 2 seed in the Horizon League tournament. Now they will fight for a likely first-round home game on March 4. …

Boyd was called for a questionable intentional foul in the second half as he stopped Duggins on a fast break to the basket. …

NBC 5’s Paula Faris will be doing a feature on Mayo on its Sports Sunday show tonight. The show begins at 10:35 p.m., following the news.

UP NEXT: UIC will host No. 8 Butler in the Flames’ final regular-season home game on Wednesday.

It is “Pack the Pavilion” night and only a few hundred tickets remain for the contest. This likely will be the second-largest crowd at the Pavilion for a UIC game.

The Bulldogs are 24-2 overall and 13-2 in the Horizon League after a 51-46 win over Cleveland State on Saturday.

Last season, UIC pulled off a 73-67 overtime win over the Bulldogs, who were ranked No. 12 at the time.

The game tips off at 7 p.m. Central time on Wednesday night. Coverage is available with video streaming available on the Horizon League Network and audio is available on the internet at uicflames.com.

In other recent news:
Bad night for Flames, Goode for Titans (at Detroit) (2/15/08)
Stewart helps put Flames in cruise control (vs. Valpo) (2/12/08)
Flames heating up, finish up sweep of Ramblers (2/10/08)
Hoops still close to Granderson's heart (plus Loyola preview) (2/8/08)
Flames get paired with Northern Iowa for BracketBuster (2/5/08)
Another efficient game for Mayo (vs. YSU) (2/3/08)
Inside-out combo lifts Flames (vs. CSU) (2/1/08)
Freshman boosts Bulldogs past Flames (at Butler) (1/27/08)
UIC lets road win slip away at Valpo (Stewart retruns) (1/25/08)
Mayo, Flames three-mendous (Valpo preview) (1/24/08)
Balance helps Flames bounce back (vs. Detroit) (1/20/08)
Perfect home record suffers Brown-out (vs. Wright State) (1/18/08)