Odiase a force versus Vikings

Coach McClain talking to players in the huddle

Coach Steve McClain huddles with the Flames. UIC continues its three-game road trip Friday with its first visit to Northern Kentucky in program history. — Photo: Steve Woltmann

Sophomore Tai Odiase secured his first double-double of the season Monday, but the Flames were bested by the Cleveland State Vikings at the Wolstein Center, 70-53.

Odiase led all players and matched a career high with 11 rebounds against the Vikings, while netting 11 points and rejecting six shots – more than Cleveland State’s entire squad. He played a career-high 36 minutes during the game.

UIC continues its three-game road trip Friday when the Flames visit Northern Kentucky for the first time in program history.

The Flames were largely undone Monday by 16 turnovers and a difficult showing at the free-throw line. UIC got to the line 10 more times than the Vikings, but the team converted only 39.3 percent of its free-throw attempts. UIC is 16 turnovers led to 19 points for the home team.

The Flames misfired on their first seven attempts from the field before Michael Kolawole broke the seal with a jumper in the lane at the 13:14 mark of the first half. Cleveland State was hardly lighting up the scoreboard on the other end, however, and a layup by UIC’s Dikembe Dixson about a minute later made it a two-point game.

The Vikings maintained the lead for the next several minutes, but a pair of free throws by freshman Julian Torres cut it to a one-possession game, 20-17, with 5:08 remaining in the first period. The home team closed the half on a 12-5 run to take a 10-point lead into the locker room at halftime.

Nine of UIC’s 16 turnovers came in the first half, but CSU couldn’t capitalize, scoring just seven points off the miscues. Both teams shot less than 38 percent from the field, but the Vikings made more than 72 percent of their free-throw attempts, while the Flames made 55.6 percent in the first half. Dixson carried the offensive load by leading all scorers with 10 first-half points.

Najeal Young put back a missed layup to open the second-half scoring and slice the deficit to eight points, but that was as close as the Flames would be for the remainder of the game.

Dixson led the team in scoring with 15 points. He also contributed six rebounds and two assists. Kolawole continued to provide a spark off the bench as he netted eight points and led the Flames with a career-high three steals. Cleveland State’s Rob Edwards tallied a game-high 23 points.

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