Colorado State (8-4) had lost two home games in a row, but the Rams were not about to drop a third. The Rams started slowly against the UIC Flames (5-8), but they opened up a seven-point halftime lead and then imposed their athleticism and talent on the Flames, winning 74-61.
UIC took an early 8-7 lead, but that was the last time it was on top all night. A 10-4 spurt from the Rams gave them a lead, which they continued to build all game long.
The Flames had an opportunity to make things competitive during the latter part of the second half, but they failed to convert. Trailing 51-45, freshman Markese McGuire and junior Marc Brown missed a pair of shots inside, and Colorado State responded with a 10-2 run to put the game out of reach with 5:45 remaining.
The Rams’ advantage grew to as many as 17 points inside of two minutes, but back-to-back three-pointers from UIC senior Kelsey Barlow made the score 72-61 with 35 seconds on the clock, leading to a closer final score than the actual end-game situation.
Barlow led the way for UIC with 20 points, 18 of them in the second half.
Brown, senior forward Hayden Humes, and senior forward Jordan Harks each added eight points.
Reserve guard Jay Parker, Barlow’s backup, had three points, three rebounds, and four assists.
Colorado State received standout performances from juniors Jon Octeus, junior Daniel Bejarano, and J.J. Avila.
Octeus led the Rams with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
With the best all-around performance, Bejarano had 10 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists. Avila also flirted with a double-double with 10 points, eight boards, and five dimes.
UIC will face Illinois at the United Center on Saturday for its final non-conference game of the season. The last time the these two teams met in 2010, the Flames upset the Fighting Illini, then ranked No. 12 in the nation, 57-54.