Career night turns sour
Controversial call costs Ottey, Flames
By Mike Pankow
February 25, 2017
High-flying Marcus Ottey scored a career-high 25 points Friday night, but he was called for a controversial and game-turning intentional foul in the final moments as Northern Kentucky finally secured a 90-82 victory at BB&T Arena in Highland Heights, Ky.
Ottey, who didn’t play in the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 29 due to injury, drove to the rim at will. He was 11-for-22 from the field and also grabbed a career-high seven rebounds for the Flames (14-16, 7-10 Horizon League).
With the game tied at 80-80 with 1:17 left, Ottey fouled Lavone Holland II on a drive to the basket, but the officials said the foul was intentional as they interpreted Holland had a clear path to the basket, leading to two free throws and possession for Northern Kentucky.
Holland made both charity tosses and Dantez Walton scored on a putback on the subsequent possession for gut-wrenching four-point trip. Ottey missed on the other end and the Norse finished off the night, making 6 of 8 free throws for the final margin.
Super sophomore Drew McDonald showed off his usual inside-outside game with 27 points, including two 3-pointers, to go with nine rebounds to lead the Norse (20-10, 11-6). Holland finished with 19 points and six assists and sharpshooter Cole Murray added 16 points, including four 3-pointers.
Ottey wasn’t the only UIC freshman to have a big night. Tarkus Ferguson flirted with a triple-double yet again with 22 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Ferguson knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and had nine points as the Flames hit 8 of their first 13 field-goal attempts to take a 20-11 lead with 12:45 left in the first half.
The Norse came back with a burst of their own as Murray finished off an 18-7 charge with a 3-pointer for a 31-29 Northern Kentucky lead with 4:58 before half.
Ottey finished the first half with 15 points and assisted on a K.J. Santos’ 3-pointer in the final minute of the period as UIC took a 37-36 lead into the locker room.
After the Norse took a four-point to start the second half, the Flames answered with an 11-2 run, which included seven points from Ferguson. Ferguson’s layup after a steal put UIC up 55-50 with 15:26 remaining.
The game was a seesaw affair after that with the lead switching hands multiple times.
Ferguson’s driving layup with 4:13 left put the Flames up 74-73. McDonald hit a 3-pointer and two free throws on the next two possessions to put NKU back ahead 78-74.
Ottey countered with a jumper and Tai Odiase scored on a nice post move to tie the game back up at 78-78 with 2:16 left.
However, that was Odiase’s last basket of the night as the junior was called for his fifth foul on the subsequent possession after some contact with McDonald.
McDonald made both free throws for an 80-78 edge before Ottey knocked down a pair with 1:29 left to tie it back up and set up the final moments.
FLAMES FLICKERS: Ottey replaced sophomore guard Michael Kolawole in the Flames’ starting lineup. … Freshman guard Godwin Boahen missed his second straight game and fourth in the last six because of lower-body injuries. … UIC shot 52.2 percent from the field while NKU hit 46 percent, but the Norse won the game from the line where they hit 23-for-27 while UIC was just 4-for-8. … The Flames committed 14 turnovers, but they had just one after halftime. … Odiase finished with 10 points in 21 minutes while Santos contributed nine points on three 3-pointers. … The Flames close the regular season at Wright State on Sunday afternoon.