UIC fell short at home Friday against San Francisco in its first game under new head coach Steve McClain. The Flames held a three-point lead entering the final three minutes, but a strong finish by the Dons gave them a 78-75 victory.
The Flames stood by McClain’s up-tempo system as the game lasted 80 possessions. UIC had not a regulation game against a Division I opponent go more than 71 possessions since Nov. 26 2013, when it fell to Louisiana Tech in an 80-possession contest.
So although the Flames posted a respectable 75 points, the offense was not so great. The team shot 28-of-76 from the field. The bright spot was that the Flames turned the ball over only 10 times despite starting two freshmen and bringing four other newcomers off the bench.
Freshman forward Dikembe Dixson led UIC with 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting. 11 of his points came in the second half.
McClain, who plans on using a deep rotation anyway, was forced to trust his depth Friday due to extreme foul trouble. 12 Flames saw the floor, and three fouled out. Three others picked up four fouls.
Sophomore center Tai Odiase played only 16 minutes before fouling out but still managed to block five shots.
For San Francisco, four players scored in double figures, led by senior guard Tim Derksen with 17 points. Derksen also had 12 rebounds for his second straight double-double dating back to last season.