Story courtesy of Central Michigan Sports Information
Central Michigan 70, Illinois-Chicago 67
MOUNT PLEASANT – Andre Coimbra scored a game-high 22 points but none more timely than his final two which gave Central Michigan a one-point lead with 27 seconds left in a 70-67 win over UIC.
Down 67-66 with less than 30 seconds remaining, Coimbra grabbed an offensive rebound under the basket and laid it back in for the go-ahead score. On the other end of the floor he stole the ball from the Flames' (3-7) Greg Travis, giving the Chippewas (5-5) possession again with four seconds left.
"We challenged ourselves to be in the right spots," said head coach Ernie Zeigler. "Early on we had some possessions where we weren’t at the help line, but at the end Andre was right there where he needed to be and got the huge stop for us. Our other guys did a great job of talking and increasing pressure so (UIC) couldn’t get the three."
Austin McBroom was fouled after the turnover and calmly knocked down his only two free throws attempts of the night.
"Ever since we started this summer, all we’ve been doing is shooting free throws," said McBroom. "Every practice and before every game we shoot free throws. I just treated it like practice."
The back-and-forth battle saw 21 lead changes, including 16 in the second half alone. Both teams led by as many as eight in the first half and the Chippewas, who got back to .500 in their only home game of an 11-game stretch, took a 34-30 advantage into halftime. Neither team led by more than three after the break and the game was tied six times in the final 10 minutes. The Flames were held without a field goal after the 3:04 mark but hit seven of eight at theline to stay in the game.
"This was a game that last year we didn't finish," said Zeigler. "Tonight we were resilient enough and put ourselves in a position where we made plays down the stretch, particularly defensively. For this team to be able to close it out doing some tough things down the stretch is something for us to build upon."
Coimbra, who shot 9-of-13 from the floor, was joined in double figures by three other Chippewas – Derek Jackson (14 points), McBroom (12) and Trey Zeigler (10), whose points all came in 14 second-half minutes.
The Flames were led by Daniel Barnes' 20 points, received 16 from Hayden Humes and had 13 points and nine rebounds from Darrin Williams. UIC out-rebounded CentralMichigan, 32-21, but the Chippewas has a 25-15 scoring advantage off turnovers.