Josh Crittle's go-ahead basket with 53 seconds remaining helped UIC to a 50-44 upset of Northwestern on Saturday.
Crittle finished with a team-high 13 points, and Gary Talton's two free throws with 29 seconds left sealed the win for the Flames (6-1).
The Wildcats committed 16 turnovers and were just 10 of 20 from the free-throw line. Alex Olah missed two free throws with 3:16 remaining, and on the Flames' ensuing possession, Marc Brown converted an easy layup to give UIC a 44-42 lead. The Flames never trailed again. In a back-and-forth game, the score was tied nine times and the lead changed 11 times.
Joey Miller's jumper tied the game at 35 with 10:23 left, erasing UIC's five-point second-half deficit. Two minutes later, Brown's three-point play gave the Flames a 38-35 lead.
Northwestern was fortunate to be leading at the half, 26-25, thanks to 29 percent first-half shooting by the Flames. Drew Crawford scored a game-high 18 points for the Wildcats (6-2).
The Wildcats came out strong to start the second half, quickly extending their lead to five points on a Crawford jumper and Reggie Hearn's fast-break layup. But as was an issue all game, Northwestern couldn't get stops on the defensive end. Daniel Barnes knocked down a 3-pointer and Crittle's three-point play off another offensive rebound put UIC back ahead, 33-32, six minutes into the second half.
Crawford did his best to keep the Wildcats in the game despite their sloppy play. Twice in the second half he answered a Flames basket to bring Northwestern back within one point. Crawford drilled a 3-pointer off a screen to help Northwestern again regain the lead.
But the Wildcats couldn't harness the momentum. Another Northwestern turnover led to a UIC layup by Talton to tie the game at 42 with 3:29 remaining. The Flames scored 14 points off turnovers, and although they were outrebounded 39-34 by the Wildcats, they capitalized on their 12 offensive rebounds to score 15 second-chance points.
Twenty-four of UIC's 50 points came in the paint, led by Crittle and forwards Brown (seven points) and Hayden Humes (eight). Northwestern's offense stalled whenever Crawford was not on the court. Only five players scored for the Wildcats, with Hearn being the only other player to reach double digits. Hearn finished with 10 points but was 4 of 9 from the free-throw line.