Late letdown leaves Flames winless
Shorthanded UIC surrenders 14-point lead
By Mike Pankow
November 13, 2018
UIC must be glad that its three-game road odyssey to start the 2018-19 season is finally over.
The Flames lost three games and two regular players over the seven-day span away from home with the crushing blow coming in Monday's 89-88 overtime loss to Duquense at the Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh.
The Flames (0-3), who for the first time in school history opened a season with three straight true road games, led for double digits for most of the night and never trailed in regulation despite using just an eight-man rotation.
Starting junior forward Jordan Blount missed the game with a concussion he suffered late in the loss at Radford on Friday night. Redshirt junior shooting guard Dominique Matthews didn't travel to Radford or Duquesne because of a bad bout of the flu. The team is hopeful both players will return soon.
Despite that attrition, UIC seemed to have the contest with the Dukes (2-0) in hand.
Michael Diggins, who scored a career-high 12 points, hit a 3-pointer to give the Flames a 74-62 lead with 3:32 remaining.
Lamar Jordan Jr. answered with a 3-pointer for Duquense, who went on a quick 9-0 run on 3-pointers to trim the deficit to 74-71 with 1:47 left in regulation.
Ottey hit a jumper in the lane to put UIC up 80-76 with 37 seconds left, but Ottey missed a pair of free throws and Godwin Boahen committed a costly turnover in the final seconds, leading to Sincere Carry's game-tying layup with less than 2 seconds left.
Eric Williams Jr. hit a pair of free throws 35 seconds into overtime to give Duquesne its first lead at 82-80.
The Flames had one more flurry in them as Boahen drilled a 3-pointer for an 85-83 lead with 2:34 left in the extra session. Jordan responded with a 3 of his own 22 seconds later and the Dukes never trailed again.
Down two in the final minute, UIC got a defensive stop and had a chance to tie or take the lead. Tarkus Ferguson drove the lane and spotted an open Jamie Ahale in the corner. Ferguson delivered the pass just as Ahale took a step to his right and the ball went out of bounds for a turnover.
After Marcus Weathers split a pair of free throws for an 89-86 lead with 6 seconds left, Boahen inexplicably drove the lane and made a layup at the buzzer instead of stopping and trying a 3-pointer.
Junior forward Rob Howard Jr. played his best game in his short Flames career, scoring a career-high 18 points to go with eight rebounds. Ferguson had 18 points and 11 assists, but he also had six of UIC's 20 turnovers. Ottey contributed 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting and Boahen finished with 16 points.
Carry carried Duquense with 32 points, including 23 in the second half and overtime.
UIC started the game on fire from the field, making eight of its first nine shots from the field, taking a 21-9 lead on Ahale's 3-pointer.
The Flames extended the lead to as many as 14 at 35-21 on Boahen's 3-pointer with 6:02 left in the first half. UIC controlled the game for the most part until the final minutes of the second half.
UIC returns to home for its Pavilion opener Thursday night when the Flames host William & Mary in hopes of salvaging a victory in the season-opening four-game Gotham Glassic.
FLAMES FLICKERS: The Flames' 0-3 start is the first since the 1996-97 season, which was Jimmy Collins' first season as UIC coach. UIC lost to Illinois, Texas A&M and Michigan State and eventually were 1-8 before ending up 15-14 and losing by one point to Butler in the MCC Championship Game. ... UIC shot 51.7 percent from the field and held the Dukes to 41.9 percent. Duquesne shot 46.7 percent in the second half and OT. ... The Flames shot 14-for-26 on 3-pointers, led by Ferguson's 4-for-6 and Boahen's 3-for-8. ... UIC was outrebounded for the third straight game. This time, Duquesne held a 41-37 edge, which included 19 offensive boards. ... Diggins, Travell Washington and Jacob Wiley fouled out of the game. UIC has had five players disqualified in its first three games.