For the second straight game and third time in the last four, UIC (5-17, 1-6 Horizon) led in the second half but wound up defeated. The Flames took their largest lead of the night Thursday in the final leg of a three-game road trip against the Milwaukee Panthers (8-14, 3-5) at 40-34 with 16:25 left, but a late Panthers run led the home team to a 71-65 victory.
“We had our chances to win tonight,” UIC coach Howard Moore said in a release. “They hit some big threes in the second half that gave them a lot of momentum. I thought Ahman (Fells) had a great game and has been playing with great energy this past month.”
Milwaukee took its first lead of the second half on a 3-pointer by freshman guard Justin Jordan with 12:22 to go. The Panthers lead stretched to 7 points in the final two minutes, but the Flames made one last push.
Senior forward Ahman Fells drained a triple, and then junior guard Paris Burns converted on a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 67-65 with 51 seconds left.
Fells finished with a career-high 20 points along with 8 rebounds. Burns recorded 16 points and 3 assists off the bench.
With plenty of difference between the shot and game clocks, UIC tried to defend Milwaukee and get a stop, but good ball movement opened up Jordan for another 3-pointer. He drained it, sinking the dagger into the Flames with 20 seconds remaining.
The two timely treys in the second half were Jordan’s only points of the night.
Meanwhile, four Panthers scored in double figures. Junior forward Matt Tiby led the team with 19 points. Although he shot 5-of-16 from the field, he made 9-of-10 at the foul line.
Senior guard Steve McWhorter finished with 17 points and 4 assists.
“It’s always a grind at this time of the season and UIC gave us problems with their guard penetration and decision making,” Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter said in a release. “What’s good to see is 16 assists and only 9 turnovers and we were able to make some shots from both inside and outside. When we make shots we have a chance to be in and win games.”
UIC returns home Saturday to host Valparaiso, which sits a half-game out of first place in the Horizon League.