The University of Illinois at Chicago Flames women’s basketball team was eliminated from the Horizon League tournament, March 9 after being defeated by the top-seeded University of Wisconsin at Green Bay Phoenix 73-53.
The Flames Head Coach Regina Miller won her 18th game of the season March 7, breaking a record for most wins by a UIC women’s head coach in the first season at the helm.
The 66-53 victory against the Butler University Bulldogs advanced the Flames to the semifinals of the tournament to face the Phoenix. This was the Flames first Horizon League tournament win since the 2006-2007 season.
UIC did not need its two stars, senior forward Jasmine Bailey and redshirt senior guard Shamiea Green, to put up big numbers and pull away early in the quarterfinals at the UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine Ave.
The Flames began the game on a 13-0 run connecting on six of their first 10 shots. The Bulldogs did not score in the first five minutes of the game. Their 20 percent shooting from the field in the first half put them in a 12-point hole heading into the second half.
Bailey, the Flames’ leading scorer, did not score in the first 17 minutes of the game, and Green, the team’s second leading scorer was held without a basket for the first 33 minutes, finishing with only 2 points. The two players average 18 and 16 points per game, respectively. Green was in foul trouble most of the game and played only 23 minutes, compared to her 37-minute average.
Although the two struggled early on, Bailey picked up her play in the second half, finishing with her 29th career double-double, ultimately surpassing 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds for her career.
“When I start off, I look to get other people going and start to get rebounds and pick it up on the defensive end, and I try to contribute after,” Bailey said.
She did just that, leading a balanced offensive attack that was too much for the Bulldogs to handle. Four of the five Flames were in double figures. UIC senior forward Kiara Strickland scored a game-high 17 points and added eight rebounds.
“I thought [Strickland’s] play was huge, particularly in the first half,” Miller said. “Then she ran the point guard for us [in the second half] when Green got in
The Bulldogs, who were without their leading scorer, sophomore center Sarah Hamm, were also without a defensive presence down low, according to Miller. She wanted her team to attack the post and they executed, outscoring the Bulldogs 32-14 in the paint.
“[Redshirt sophomore center] Katie Hannemann had presence in the paint,” Miller said. “She scored around the basket, she finished her plays and she was solid defensively and rebounded the ball for us.”
Hannemann finished the game with 12 points and six rebounds.
Even though the Flames went on a 9-0 run and built a 20-point lead with 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Bulldogs continued to battle late to cut that lead to 8 with four minutes to play in regulation. But that was the last push the Bulldogs got. The win improved the Flames’ record to 15-2 when holding opponents to less than 60 points this season.