Hampered by injury, Flames battle but fall to Cleveland State
Down two key players due to injury, the men’s basketball team (5-12, 1-1 HL) battled to the very end against Cleveland State (8-8, 2-0 HL) Sunday afternoon but ultimately fell to the Vikings by a final of 74-69.
UIC returns to action on Thursday at Valparaiso (14-3, 1-1) with tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m.
Senior Marc Brown scored a game-high 21 points against Cleveland State, while senior Ahman Fells posted his first career double-double with career-highs of 13 points and 11 rebounds.
“I was proud of the way we kept fighting even though we were short-handed,” said head coach Howard Moore. “Obviously I am not happy with the result and I do not believe in moral victories. We played right with one of the top teams in our league for 40 minutes and I look forward to playing them again.”
The Flames were without the services of junior forward Jason McClellan due to a concussion and freshman forward Tai Odiase because of a leg injury. Junior forward Jake Wiegand was ejected after drawing two technical fouls during a dead-ball scrum in the second half. CSU’s Anton Grady and Charlie Lee were also given technical fouls.
Cleveland State shot 75 percent (15-of-20) in the first period and led 37-28 at halftime after CSU’s Trey Lewis sank a contested three-pointer as time expired. The Flames held a one-point (18-17) advantage with 7:27 left in the opening half after an 11-4 run, including five straight points from senior Jay Harris. Harris finished the day with 13 points and a game-high seven assists.
After a triple by redshirt freshman Lance Whitaker at the 11:06 mark in the second half, the Flames pulled to within four of the Vikings (49-45). That’s when CSU’s Lee piloted a 13-3 run to give Cleveland State a 62-48 edge with 7:26 left to play. Lee scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half, including three consecutive threes.
UIC would not fold as they cut the Vikings’ lead down to six (71-65) with 41 seconds left after junior Gabe Snider nailed a corner trey. Brown sank a trio of free throws with 11 seconds on the clock to pull the Flames within four of CSU, the slimmest margin in the second half. UIC outscored Cleveland state in the second period by a margin of 41-37.
Sophomore Hans-Christian Lauer gave the Flames seven quality minutes off the bench with a career-high four points. Junior D’Juan Miller dished out five assists with zero turnovers in 33 minutes.
The Flames dominated CSU on the glass by a margin of 45-21 and grabbed a season-high 23 offensive rebounds.