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Motown mowdown

Flames rally past Detroit, clinch No. 5 seed in Horizon tourney

March 3, 2019

Whoosh! file photo

UIC forward Jordan Blount, right, had 14 points and 10 rebounds Saturday against Detroit Mercy.

UIC was able to rinse the bad taste of Thursday night's loss to Oakland with a solid victory to close its regular season.

The Flames overcame a three-point deficit with a strong second-half effort, especially on the defensive end, in an 80-71 victory over Detroit Mercy on Saturday afternoon at the Calihan Hall.

The Flames (16-15, 10-8), end up with the No. 5 seed in the Horizon League tournament and will face Green Bay at the Resch Center in Tuesday's opening-round matchup. UIC and Green Bay both finished 10-8 in the conference, but the Phoenix's season-sweep gave them the tiebreaker.

Tarkus Ferguson led the way with 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while Jordan Blount recorded his second double-double of the season with 14 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.

Blount was instrumental in the second half with 10 points and seven boards in turning a 42-39 deficit into a relatively smooth victory.

Antoine Davis, the likely Freshman of the Year in the Horizon League, scored just nine of his game-high 25 points after halftime for the Titans (11-19, 8-10)

Davis hit almost everything he threw up in the first half before the Flames clamped down on him. UIC allowed just the Titans to shoot just 35.3 percent from the field in the second half.

The Flames led 17-10 early after Godwin Boahen (13 points, four assists) hit a 3-pointer, but the Titans countered with a 10-0 blitz to regain the lead, including seven points by Davis (with a four-point play mixed in).

Ferguson knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Flames a 34-33 lead with 3:12 left in the half but Davis answered with a trey of his own as Detroit took the lead into the locker room.

The Titans led by as many as five early in the second half before UIC crawled back into it and eventually forged ahead.

Lamar Hamrick hit a fastbreak layup with 11:21 remaining to cut the Flames lead to 59-58, but UIC's defense stiffened after that.

The Titans missed seven consecutive shots and committed two turnovers as the Flames went on a 11-0 run that spanned over six minutes. Sophomore Jacob Wiley hit a pair of baskets during the run, which also included a 3 by classmate Jamie Ahale and a layup by Marcus Ottey (12 points).

Ferguson capped the burst with a SportsCenter sequence. He blocked a 3-point attempt by Davis, then grabbed the ball and raced down the court for a thunderous dunk, giving UIC a 70-58 advantage with 5:38 left.

Detroit finally ended its drought with a jumper by senior Josh McFolley with 5:10 to go, but the Titans would get no closer than seven down the stretch.

FLAMES FLICKERS: The Flames won their sixth straight against the Titans, giving UIC coach Steve McClain a 6-2 mark against Detroit Mercy in his four seasons as Flames coach. ... UIC finished 4-5 on the road in league play and is 11-7 over the last two seasons on the road in the Horizon League. ... Blount's other double-double this season came in the first meeting against Detroit on Jan. 24. He has four double-digit rebounding games this season. ... The Flames won for just the second time all year when trailing at the half (2-11). ... Ferguson's four 3-pointers gave him 94 for the season, trying Josh Mayo (2007-08) for the school's single-season record. ... Wiley has been a strong factor off the bench over the last two games, averaging 9.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in 19.0 minutes.

In other recent news:
Oakland 86, UIC 72: Plans fouled up (3/1/19)
UIC 74, Milwaukee 59: Surging forward (2/26/19)
Green Bay 63, UIC 62: Crushing blow (2/23/19)
Youngstown State 81, UIC 73: Too hot to handle (2/18/19)
UIC 81, Cleveland State 77: Doing it in the clutch (2/15/19)
UIC 76, IUPUI 75: Pivotal victory (2/12/19)
UIC 69, Northern Kentucky 67: All Hail, Ahale! (2/4/19)
UIC 67, Wright State 53: Going splat (2/2/19)