CHICAGO, Illinois – It was a tale of two halves in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament Tuesday night at the UIC Pavilion as after the Wright State men’s basketball team built a 19-point halftime lead, UIC answered with a 40-18 second half as the Flames prevailed 60-57.
UIC led 13-11 until WSU went on a 7-0 run, capped off by a Joe Thomasson three-point play at the 7:11 mark of the first half. Another 7-0 burst made it 25-16 and an 11-0 run extended the margin to 18 en route to a 39-20 halftime advantage.
Wright State hit 15 of 25 shots in the opening 20 minutes, including three of four three-pointers, and made six of seven foul shots compared to 28 percent shooting for the Flames, who were just two of 11 from behind the arc.
UIC gradually cut into the deficit, but WSU still looked to be in control as two Reggie Arceneaux free throw with 5:15 left made it 55-46.
The Flames, however, rallied to tie the game by scoring the next nine points, the final three coming on a Ahman Fells three at the 1:58 mark. A scoop shot by Chrishawn Hopkins put the Raiders back in front before a Jay Harris triple gave UIC the lead for good at 58-57 with 1:13 left.
Wright State had two chances to regain the advantage, but came up short and after Harris hit two foul shots at the 5.9-second mark, the Raiders missed a three attempt at the horn to tie it.
After shooting 60 percent in the first half, WSU made seven of 16 shots in the second half to end up at 54 percent overall while the Flames were at 39 percent. UIC, though, hit 16 of 20 foul shots compared to 10 of 13 for Wright State and forced the Raiders into 14 turnovers while committing just six, resulting in a 26-7 differential in points off of turnovers.
Wright State, who ends its season at 11-20, had four in double figures as Thomasson had 12 and Karena, Benzinger and Mitchell 10 each. Mitchell also posted a double-double as he finished with 11 rebounds.
UIC (9-23), who advances to Friday’s second round to play Oakland at Valparaiso, was paced by Harris with 23 while Fells had 11 and McGuire 10.