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Good half just good enough

Diggins, Flames squeeze past Incarnate Word

By Mike Pankow

December 19, 2018

Mike Pankow/Whoosh!

UIC forward Michael Diggins scored a career-high 15 points Monday night against Incarnate Word.

For one half Monday night, it looked like UIC had escaped from the doldrums for its 20-point loss at DePaul.

After an 18-point second half that included 21.4 percent shooting, the Flames survived for a 63-57 victory over Incarnate Word after holding a 15-point halftime lead at Credit Union 1 Arena.

Thankfully, sophomore forward Michael Diggins played arguably the best game of his career, finishing with a personal-best 15 points with seven rebounds, two steals and three blocked shots.

Diggins scored 12 of his points in the first half as the Flames (5-7) shot 59.3 percent en route to a 45-30 advantage.

Tarkus Ferguson scored all 12 of his points in the opening half while Marcus Ottey added 12 points for UIC, which improved to 5-1 at home. Ottey, a junior guard from Ajax, Ontario, Canada, surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career, becoming the 24th Flames player to do so.

Incarnate Word led by as many as six early in the game before Diggins scored on a layup to ignite a 15-4 run that put the Flames up 18-13.

Diggins hit six free throws in the final 1:22 of the first half as UIC led by as many as 16 points.

In the second half, the Flames came out ice cold, scoring just nine points in the first 12:30 of the period. Yet the Flames still led 54-46.

After the Cardinals (5-7) closed to within 58-52, Diggins slammed home a baseline dunk and converted a three-point play after being fouled with 4:22 left for a nine-point lead. UIW would not get any closer than six the rest of the night.

FLAMES FLICKERS: Diggins has reached double figures in four games this season. ... The Flames again struggled with turnovers, finishing with 18. UIC has committed 62 in its last three games (20.7 per game). ... Ferguson had five turnovers and has averaged six over those last three contests. ... Redshirt junior guard Dominique Matthews saw his first action since the season opener against Notre Dame, missing his only shot attempt in five second-half minutes. ... Junior forward Rob Howard was called for a technical foul in the first half for taunting after a layup. ... Jordan Blount tied for the team high with seven rebounds. ... Godwin Boahen added eight points despite shooting 2-for-10 from the field. ... Former UIC forward Dikembe Dixson, who averaged 17.4 points over parts of three seasons, signed with the Windy City Bulls, the Chicago Bulls' G-League affiliate.

In other recent news:
DePaul 90, UIC 70: One extreme to another (12/15/18)
Colorado 84, UIC 72: All fouled up (12/11/18)
UIC 94, Illinois State 75: Complete effort (12/6/18)
Loyola 73, UIC 64: Crosstown quandary (12/4/18)
St. Joseph’s 89, UIC 75: Another big lead goes poof (11/30/18)
UIC 94, UW-Parkside 74: Roller-coaster ride (11/27/18)
UIC 71, Bradley 70: Tired Flames find a way (11/22/18)
UIC 100, William & Mary 95 (OT): Extra mile-stone (11/16/18)
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)