CHICAGO — During a second straight rocky season, UIC found some light at the end of the tunnel. The Flames defeated the Wright State Raiders on Saturday with ease for their third win of the month while also securing the No. 6 seed and a home game in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament.
The last time UIC had three wins in a calendar month was January 2013, when the team posted a 5-4 record.
With the 61-46 victory against Wright State, UIC will either rematch Wright State or face Youngstown State on Tuesday at UIC Pavilion depending on the result of Saturday’s game between Youngstown State and Milwaukee.
“Once you got a home game, it makes things go in your favor a lot more,” coach Howard Moore said. “We just gotta bring that defense that we had tonight, we’ve got to bring it on Tuesday. … I was extremely excited and proud of our defense and how it stepped up today. The defense was tremendous. We got our hands on a lot of balls, a lot of deflections, got some steals. We turned those into positive plays. ”
The Flames’ defense carried them Saturday, holding the Raiders to 0.74 points per possession.
On the offensive side of the ball, senior Marc Brown led UIC with 18 points on 5-of-12 shooting on his senior day. Brown is now 14 points shy of 1,000 for his career.
“It meant a lot,” Brown said of playing well in his final regular season home game. “I just wanted to come out and be aggressive. I just felt like being aggressive would help the team out. And I had the whole 1,000 point thing in the back, back, back of my head. That had a lot to do with it too.”
Senior Jay Harris contributed 12 points, all at the foul line, although he shot 0-of-9 from the field and had 6 turnovers. Harris also did a good job penetrating and finding teammates for 8 assists.
“The game plan was to make sure that the seniors came out and set the tone,” Moore said. “Even though we didn’t shoot the ball the way we did at their place, we were patient on offense for the most part, we worked the ball inside, we got to the free throw line.”
If Youngstown State defeats Milwaukee, the Penguins will come to the Pavilion next week. If Youngstown State loses, Wright State will make a return to Chicago.
The Flames swept the Raiders and split with the Penguins, but Moore is not concerned with the opponent.
“I don’t think that matters,” Moore said. “I think the key is bringing that defensive intensity again.”