FAIRBRON, Ohio – Down 15 at the half, the Wright State men’s basketball team rallied to take a two-point lead with 4:53 left, only to see UIC outscore the Raiders 18-12 the rest of the way to pull out a 79-75 decision Thursday night at WSU’s Nutter Center.
The Flames scored the first nine points of the contest on three Paris Burns three-pointers and gradually built a 45-30 halftime advantage by hitting 17 of 24 field goal attempts for 71 percent, including eight of 11 three-point tries. Wright State, meanwhile, hit 13 of 25 shots overall, but was just two of seven from behind the arc.
The Raiders stormed back into the game by starting the second half with a 17-5 run over a 4:34 span, nine of those coming from Grant Benzinger. A Michael Karena three-point play tied the game with 6:58 remaining and WSU took its first lead of the contest at 59-57 on a Justin Mitchell layup at the 6:05 mark.
Wright State’s lead remained at two on two later occasions until UIC regained the lead for good at 65-63 on two Jay Harris foul shots with 3:12 left. Harris later added two more free throws and hit a key three at the 1:42 mark to make it 72-66.
A Benzinger three cut the deficit to 76-72 with 15.1 seconds to go, but the Raiders would get no closer as the Flames hit three of four foul shots down the stretch.
After shooting 71 percent in the first half, UIC cooled to 35 percent the second half to end up at 55 percent overall, including 11 of 17 from three, and the Flames also hit 20 of 26 foul shots, 17 of 20 after halftime. The Raiders, meanwhile, shot 51 percent for the game and were six of 14 from three, but made just seven of 15 at the foul line.
Three WSU players recorded season highs as Benzinger had 23, Karena 21 and Mitchell 15 along with nine rebounds and five assists.
Harris paced UIC (7-19, 3-8 Horizon) with 25 points, including a 13 of 14 performance at the foul line, while Burns had 21 and Ahman Fells 17.
Wright State (11-14, 3-8 Horizon) hosts Youngstown State Sunday at 3:00.