Wright States blows by UIC in first round of Horizon League Tournament

Photo: UIC Athletics

Wright State shot 14-of-28 from 3-point range Saturday en route to a 74-43 win against 10th-seeded UIC in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament.

UIC (5-25, 3-15 Horizon) scored the first four points of the game, but third-seeded Wright State responded with an 8-0 run in a 2:04 span. The Raiders never relinquished their lead, which grew to 34-17 at halftime.

The Flames clung within six points at 23-17 entering the final four minutes of the first half. Wright State then exploded for an 11-0 run, bookended by 3-pointers from senior JT Yoho and freshman Mark Hughes, to end the period.

Wright State (20-12, 13-5) continued to pile it on during the second half, building a lead as large as 34 points with 3:04 remaining.

Wright State, which has had the epitome of a balanced offense under coach Billy Donlon, displayed that quality once again in the victory. Yoho led the Raiders with 15 points and freshman forward Daniel Mortensen recorded 14 points off the bench, shattering his previous career-high of six points.

Five other Wright State players scored at least five points.

UIC did not score much, and when it did, it did not have the luxury of such balance.

Wright State has one of the Horizon League’s best defenses, but it achieves that through forcing turnovers rather than low shooting percentages. The Raiders took their defensive output to the next level Saturday by not only forcing the Flames to turn it over in 27 percent of their possessions, but also holding them to a 24.5 effective field-goal percentage.

Dikembe Dixson, the Horizon League Freshman of the Year, netted a game-high 18 points, shooting 4-of-13 from the field and 10-of-13 at the foul line. Dixson grabbed 11 rebounds seventh double-double but also committed eight turnovers.

Freshman guard Michael Kolawole scored eight points while junior guard Markese McGuire had five points, all in the first half.

While UIC’s first season under coach Steve McClain comes to a close, Wright State advances to the second round of the Horizon League Tournament on Sunday. The Raiders will face the winner of Saturday’s matchup between Detroit and Youngstown State.

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