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Stinging defeat

Almost all goes wrong for Flames in blowout loss

By Mike Pankow

February 27, 2017

Mike Pankow/Whoosh! file photo

UIC sophomore Michael Kolawole scored a career-high 18 points Sunday against Wright State.

Almost everything went wrong Sunday afternoon for UIC.

Looking like a team that has run out of gas following a brutal 10-day stretch to end the regular season, the Flames played possibly their worst game of the season in an 87-49 loss at Wright State.

The Flames (14-17, 7-11 Horizon League) shot just 30.8 percent from the field, missed eight free throws, committed 16 turnovers and were outrebounded by Wright State 37-32.

Sophomore guard Michael Kolawole was the lone bright spot for UIC, scoring a career-high 18 points on 6-for-9 from the field and 5-for-7 on free throws. No other player reached double figures as the Flames lost their fourth straight, going 1-4 in the season’s final 10 days, which included four road games.

The Raiders (20-11, 11-7), on the other hand, did just about everything right.

Senior forward Steven Davis scored 27 points, including 12 straight Raiders points in a span of 2:03 in the second half, and grabbed nine rebounds. Mark Alstork had 14 points, six rebounds and 10 assists and versatile Justin Mitchell contributed 17 points and six assists.

Wright State shot 51.7 percent from the field, hit 13 of 29 3-pointers and doled out 19 assists to just 11 turnovers to cruise to the inexplicable 38-point blowout.

After Marcus Ottey scored on a drive to the basket just 16 seconds into the game for UIC, the Raiders answered with the next 12 points, six each by Mitchell and Davis.

Wright State cooled off a bit and it appeared the Flames were going to make a game of it.

Dominique Matthews’ free throw pulled UIC top within 16-11 with 8:15 remaining in the first half, but the Raiders decided to put the game on ice in the first half with an 18-2 run.

Mitchell knocked down a 17-footer to start the blitz and by the time Ryan Custer knocked down a 3, Wright State had opened a 34-13 bulge with 2:35 left before halftime.

The Flames trailed 40-19 at the half and didn’t show much life at the start of the second half either. The Raiders went on an 11-2 run, capped by a Grant Benzinger 3-pointer, to open 51-21 advantage.

Wright State led by as many as 47 before UIC scored the final nine points of the game.

The good news for the Flames is that a new season begins after a week off in the Horizon League tournament a.k.a. “Motor City Madness.”

UIC will have a chance to recharge its battery before facing No. 3 seed Green Bay in a second-round matchup on Sunday, March 5 at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. Tip time is scheduled for 4 p.m. Central time.

FLAMES FLICKERS: Kolawole’s previous career high was 17, which came in the previous meeting with the Raiders, an 88-86 loss at the Pavilion on Jan. 29. … Freshmen K.J. Santos (nine points) and Ottey (eight points) were the only other Flames to approach double figures. … UIC made only 16 field goals in the game with three of those coming in the final 2:32. … The 49 points were the fewest all season for the Flames and the 38-point loss was the largest margin of defeat since a 98-47 loss (51) at Detroit on Jan. 19, 2013. … Freshman guard Godwin Boahen missed his third straight game and fifth in the last seven because of lower-body injuries. It is hopeful he will be back for next Sunday’s game against Green Bay.

In other recent news:
Northern Kentucky 90, UIC 82: Career night turns sour (2/25/17)
Green Bay 87, UIC 79: Veterans’ night (2/22/17)
Oakland 87, UIC 75: Turnovers burn Flames (2/20/17)
UIC 74, Detroit 69: Road warriors (2/18/17)
Matthews honored by Horizon League (2/15/17)
Cleveland State 66, UIC 63: Chill in the air (2/13/17)
UIC 84, Youngstown State 81: Flames overcome Morse (2/10/17)
UIC 105, Milwaukee 100 (OT): Ferguson takes over (2/5/17)
Green Bay 84, UIC 80: Faltering late (2/3/17)
Wright State 88, UIC 86: Not quite enough (1/30/17)
Northern Kentucky 79, UIC 62: Horror show (1/28/17)