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OT Heartbreak

FLAMES RALLY FROM DOWN 17 BEFORE FALLING

December 17, 2014

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Paris Burns scored 24 points to lead the Flames on Monday.

Monday night’s game with Tennessee-Martin was a thrill for UIC, but the ride ended on a sour note.

The Flames rallied from 17 points down in the second half to force overtime before they fell 81-78 at the Pavilion.

Junior guard Paris Burns registered his second 20-plus-point effort in three games, scoring a team-high 24 points to help UIC (3-8) come back from a 55-38 deficit with 9:55 remaining in regulation. Senior guard Marc Brown contributed a season-high 23 points to go with six rebounds and senior guard Jay Harris poured in 18 points for the Flames.

UNLV transfer Deville Smith filled the box score with a game-high 26 points, six rebounds, seven assists and five blocked shots to lead the Skyhawks (6-2). Alex Anderson added 16 points and six assists while Twymond Howard pitched in 14 points and 10 rebounds and Marshun Newell chipped in 12 points as UTM shot 45 percent.

Burns was the catalyst behind the Flames’ comeback. After Howard hit a 17-foot jumper to put the Skyhawks up 17, Burns scored 10 points during UIC’s 20-4 spurt.

After Smith hit a floater for a 59-53 UTM lead, Burns responded with a 15-foot jumper and assisted on redshirt freshman Lance Whitaker’s 3-pointer as the Flames closed to within 59-58 with 3:18 left.

The Skyhawks scored the next four points, including Howard’s dunk as UTM took a 63-58 advantage. Brown quickly answered with a three-point play to cut the Flames’ deficit to two with 2:11 showing.

Smith hit a pair of free throws for a 65-61 lead with 1:45 left before Whitaker answered with a mid-range jumper to cut it back down to two. After a defensive stand, Harris was fouled on a drive and nailed two free throws to tie the game at 65-65 with 28.6 seconds to go.

The Skyhawks had a chance for the last shot, but Newell’s jumper was blocked by Flames freshman Tai Odiase with under 4 seconds left. Burns picked up the loose ball and streaked to the top of key, but his off-balance 30-footer at the buzzer bounced off the backboard and hit the rim three times before falling off, forcing an extra five minutes.

After the heart-wrenching miss, overtime belonged to the Skyhawks. Smith hit a short jumper on the OT’s first possession to start a 10-2 run that put UTM ahead 75-67 with 1:23 left.

The Flames were never closer than six until Harris hit an open 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final points.

UIC endured yet another slow start, shooting 30.3 percent in the first half, falling behind 28-11 after Newell’s three-point play with 6:07 before halftime.

Brown hit 3-pointer to cap a 12-3 run to close the gap to 31-23. Howard and Burns traded baskets before the half as UTM took a 33-25 lead at the break.

FLAMES FLICKERS: The Flames did plenty right despite the loss. They shot 90 percent (18-for-20) from the free-throw line and handed out 17 assists while turning the ball over just six times. … UTM, however, controlled the boards, outrebounding the Flames 44-36. … Burns also had five assists for UIC while D’Juan Miller added four. … Monday’s game was the first meeting between the schools.

In other recent news:
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UIC 71, UCF 60: Harris smoking as Flames end skid (12/14/14)
Loyola 77, UIC 67: Cold day in city rivalry (12/10/14)
Grand Canyon 66, UIC 62: Head-scratcher (12/4/14)
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Kent State 78, UIC 60: One-man show not nearly enough (11/23/14)
Yale 70, UIC 58: Ivy League education (11/22/14)
UIC 67, Western Illinois 64: Wiegand flexes muscle (11/19/14)
DePaul 72, UIC 71: Opening fight (11/16/14)
Exhibition: UIC 70, Beloit 54: Size matters – in their hearts (11/11/14)