Flames’ guards are up to task
BY TINA AKOURIS firstname.lastname@example.org October 12, 2012 2:34PM
Northwestern’s Drew Crawford swats away a shot by Michigan State’s Austin Thornton in the second half. | AP
Guard play has been an inconsistent element for city and Horizon League rivals UIC and Loyola. But UIC’s backcourt of Daniel Barnes and Gary Talton rose to the challenge in the second half Saturday, rallying the host Flames to a 58-51 victory and keeping the Ramblers winless in conference play.
“Our guys had a valiant effort against a team that is hungry,’’ UIC coach Howard Moore said. “I know [Loyola] coach [Porter] Moser has them going in the right direction, but I love the direction of my team, too.’’
The Flames (6-11, 2-5), who led by 10 in the first half, won their second conference game and ended the Ramblers’ four-game winning streak in the series.
Barnes (18 points) and Talton (16 points) were the difference-makers in the end, scoring 14 of the Flames’ final 18 points after the Ramblers (5-12, 0-7) closed to 42-41 with 11 minutes left.
“It was communication,’’ Talton said. “Coach Moore always keeps confidence in us, and we talked to one another and stayed poised under the pressure.’’
The Ramblers were led by forwards Walt Gibler (21 points) and Ben Averkamp (10 points, nine rebounds). Guard Denzel Brito and freshman starter Joe Crisman combined for six points.
“Talton and Barnes made shot-clock-type plays down the stretch, and we haven’t done that,’’ Moser said. “It comes down to our guard play, and their guards did a great job. Ours was nonexistent again. Walt and Ben need help, and they’re not getting it.’’
Gibler and Crisman each had two early fouls as well, limiting the Ramblers in the first half. That helped UIC center Darrin Williams dominate early. He had 11 points and three blocks in the first half.
But Williams finished with those numbers as the game turned to guard play in the second half.