Bush leads Flames’ balanced attack
EARN ROAD WIN AT NORTHERN IOWA
February 24, 2008
Swingman Robert Bush scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half as the visiting Flames led from start to finish in a 70-58 victory over Northern Iowa as part of the BracketBusters event at Cedar Falls, Iowa on Saturday night.
Bush nailed a three-pointer just over a minute into the game to give UIC (15-13) a 5-0 lead. He shot 4-for-5 from the field, including three three-pointers as the Flames grabbed a 41-29 lead at the half.
“Robert needed a game like this,” UIC coach Jimmy Collins said. “I’ve been bragging about him and what he can do for three years, but Robert just had to make it happen.”
The Flames built their double-digit lead, thanks to 56 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes.
“We gave up far too many points in the first half,” UNI coach Ben Jacobson said. “We’ve got to defend harder than that. We made too many mistakes in the first half and it cost us.”
Three other Flames hit double figures as Josh Mayo, Robert Kreps and Jeremy Buttell each scored 13 points. Buttell added nine rebounds in one of his best outings of the season.
UIC extended the lead to as many as 16 in the second half as Scott VanderMeer hit his first two shots of the second half for a 45-29 advantage with 17:17 remaining.
The Flames led by a sizable margin for most of the second half, but UNI made a little bit of a run late. The Panthers (15-13) pulled within 61-54 on a three-point play by Carlton Reed with 2:41 to play.
After a Flames’ turnover, Kerwin Dunham missed a three-pointer. UIC capitalized as Buttell converted a three-point play of his own for a 64-54 lead with 2:10 left, effectively sealing the Flames’ fourth road win of the season.
For the game, UIC shot 52 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Panthers 35-27.
“The long bus ride will be worth it,” Collins said of the five-hour ride back home. “We’ve made quite a few of these long bus rides off an L. This one will be a little more jovial.”
UNI’s 6-foot-6, 240-pound Eric Coleman was a tough cover for the Flames. The burly senior scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. He also contributed to foul troubles for VanderMeer and Jermaine Dailey.
“I kind of had it going,” Coleman said. “Coach [Jacobson] wanted us to pound the ball to me and I took advantage of the 1-on-1 situations. It was a good game for me, but the loss cancels it out.”
Reed added 13 points off the bench for the Panthers, who have lost three straight, including two in a row at the McLeod Center.
UIC took control with a 13-4 run midway through the first half as Bush, Mayo and Kreps each hit three-pointers. Buttell capped the spurt with a layup and the Flames took a 25-13 lead with 8:54 left in the first half. UIC never trailed by less than five for the remainder of the contest.
The Flames have just two regular-season games remaining (at Green Bay and Milwaukee) before the Horizon League tournament.
“We’re hoping this win helps us gain some momentum for the Wisconsin trip and for tournament time,” Collins said.
Quotes for this story were taken from radio broadcasts off uicflames.com and unipanthers.com.
Mayo tied Derrick Johnson (1985-89) for 13th place with 13 points on Saturday night. Both players have 1,142 points. …
Kreps notched his 11th double-figure scoring effort of the season as he also played one of his better games of the campaign. He added four assists (one behind team-leader Spencer Stewart) and two steals. …
Saturday’s game was only the third time all season that UIC did not trail in a game. The other games were an 81-55 win over Illinois-Springfield on Nov. 13 and a 65-52 road win at Central Michigan on Nov. 28. …
This was the first time that UIC has met UNI since the 1990-91 season when both teams were part of the Mid-Continent Conference. The all-time series is now even at 10-10.
UP NEXT: The Flames hit the road to Wisconsin as they take on Green Bay at the Resch Center on Thursday night.
The Phoenix have lost five straight games, including its last two at home. Green Bay is now 13-14 overall and 7-9 in the Horizon League. Western Michigan defeated Green Bay 74-67 in a BracketBuster game at the Resch Center on Saturday night.
Four Phoenix players average in double figures, led by junior forward Mike Schachtner at 15.7 points per game. Junior forward Ryan Tillema (11.7 ppg), freshman guard Rahmon Fletcher (10.2) and senior swingman Terry Evans (10.0) are Green Bay’s other top threats.
UIC defeated Green Bay 76-67 at the Pavilion in the team’s first meeting back on Dec. 8. Mayo had 32 points, including six threes, to lead the Flames.
The game tips off at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Resch Center in Green Bay with video streaming available on the Horizon League Network with radio coverage with Adam Levinson on Flames’ radio on WIND-AM 560.