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Extra mile-stone

Flames prevail in OT; McClain wins 200th

By Mike Pankow

November 16, 2018

Mike Pankow/Whoosh!

Godwin Boahen, left, scored a career-high 24 points and made a key defensive play late in regulation against William & Mary.

Godwin Boahen had a career night offensively Thursday, but it was a defensive play that had everyone talking.

The junior guard from Toronto scored a personal-best 24 points as the Flames fought back from late deficit to escape with a 100-95 overtime victory over William & Mary in their home opener, helping coach Steve McClain earn his 200th career coaching victory.

With the Flames down 79-77 with just under 2 minutes left in regulation, Boahen was able to steal the ball from William & Mary with the Tribe looking to extend their lead. Boahen was fouled in the process of gaining the loose and made both free throws.

"It was really just a hustle play," said Boahen of his swipe from Justin Pierce. "I thought they were going to call a foul on me."

With 16 seconds left, Boahen came through offensively when hit a mid-range jumper in the lane off a great head fake to tie the game at 82-82 to force overtime.

Boahen scored six points in the extra session, in which the Flames (1-3) outscored William & Mary 18-13. He put the game away with a pair of free throws with 4 seconds to play.

UIC found all sorts of ways to lose in its first three games -- blowing big leads, getting blown out, making too many turnovers or defensive mistakes.

"We basically beat ourselves the first three games," Boahen said. "We just lost control of those games. After watching the film, we said we can’t be making these same mistakes. The main focus today was to control what we can control."

And the Flames finally took control in overtime.

Tarkus Ferguson also had a big night for UIC, scoring 25 points, just two shy of his career high. Ferguson had the first five points for the Flames in overtime before eventually fouling out.

Boahen's layup with 1:52 left in the extra session put the Flames up 92-89 and UIC never trailed again.

The Tribe, who employ the Princeton offense, led by as many as nine points in the first half, taking a 45-38 lead at halftime while shooting 56 percent from the field.

McClain said the Flames made some adjustments during the break, which helped them get back into the game.

"We thought we could speed the game up a little bit, but (William & Mary) did a good job of handling it," said McClain, who is 200-178 in his 13th season of coaching at the Division I level. "(Assistant coach) Dee Brown did a great job on his scout and we adjusted at halftime. We went to switching more things and that put us in a better position."

Boahen scored seven points during a 21-7 run, helping UIC turn the game around and take a 61-54 lead with 13:17 left in the second half.

However, William & Mary countered with a 12-0 run and it was dogfight the rest of the way with the teams trading the lead several times down the stretch.

Every time the Tribe hit a big shot, the Flames drew energy from the crowd to fight back.

"We needed that crowd. We needed that energy," said McClain of the vocal 2,409 fans. "They helped our guys to keep fighting. To prep for what (William & Mary does) is really hard to do. We had to adjust. I thought our guys did a great job."

Jordan Blount returned from his one-game absence (concussion) to post 14 points and seven rebounds for UIC while Marcus Ottey added 14 points and a team-best five assists. Michael Diggins (nine points) and Rob Howard (eight) also had strong contributions on both ends.

Diggins snuffed Pierce's last-second drive to the basket at the end of regulation. Pierce had 25 points and 11 rebounds and Matt Milon added 30 points for the Tribe (1-2).

The victory was a nice bounce-back after surrendering a 14-point lead in an overtime loss at Duquesne on Monday night.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time, the opponent isn't your opponent, it's yourself," McClain said. "Do you come ready and prepared to do what you do well? If you do, you’re going to have an opportunity to win. I thought our guys handed it well. They knew they should won that Duquesne game. They learned when we stay together and make the right passes, then we’re going to be a hard team to guard."

FLAMES FLICKERS: The Flames finished 1-3 in the Gotham Classic. ... McClain is 43-63 in three-plus season as Flames coach. ... UIC played consecutive overtime games for the first time since the 2005-06 season (Feb. 22 [at Cleveland State] and Feb. 25 [vs. Wright State]). The Flames won both. ... Boahen has hit at least one 3-pointer in 22 straight games. ... The Flames have been outrebounded in all four games. ... Redshirt junior guard Dominique Matthews was back with the team on the bench after missing the previous two games with the flu. He did not play Thursday.

POSTGAME VIDEOS (courtesy UIC Flames on YouTube):

In other recent news:
Duquesne 89, UIC 88 (OT): Late letdown leaves Flames winless (11/13/18)
Radford 88, UIC 78: Road doesn’t get easier (11/11/18)
Notre Dame 84, UIC 67: Just no answer (11/8/18)
Exhibition: UIC 81, Illinois Wesleyan 60: Flames pass test (11/5/18)
CIT: Northern Colorado 76, UIC 71: So close (4/3/18)