Illini escape Lewis in final preseason tune-up



By Jeremy Werner

The stage wasn’t as big as the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal game against Purdue, but Demetri McCamey’s clutch shooting sparked Illinois to another last-minute victory in Illinois’ final exhibition game against Lewis.

McCamey hit two three pointers in the closing minutes, including a dagger with 0:26 to play, to lead Illinois to a 62-56 win against the Flyers.

The game was the Illini’s final preseason warm-up before Friday night’s regular season opener against Eastern Washington.


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Illini end preseason with win

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“I want to be the one that takes the shot at the end of the game,” McCamey said. “Coach knows that and my players know it too. So I just want to make the big shot and just make the right play. If it’s passing or scoring, I just want to make the big play at the end.”

The Illini took a slim 30-26 lead into halftime but started the second half strong, going on a 17-7 run to take a 47-33 lead.

But the Flyers stormed back, trimming the Illinois lead to 52-50 with five minutes left in the game.

“We let that 14-point lead slip, and made it a game,” Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said. “So now you have a gut check game, and now you got to see what you’re about. We made some plays down the stretch and made some stops.”

Mike Davis provided a spark off the bench, finishing with a team-high 18 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.

McCamey bounced back from a four-point, three-turnover performance last week against Florida Southern to put up 16 points.

The Illini struggled to put the ball in the basket, shooting 38.7 percent from the field, including 5-of-21 from beyond the arc. Illinois didn’t fare much better from the free-throw line, making 13 of 23 attempts.

“I thought we took some bad shots in both little stretches when we had some leads,” Weber said. “You know, we’re going to blow them out by hitting a grand slam, but no one’s on base.”

Senior guard Brandon Dagans kept Lewis close, scoring 12 points in the second half. He led the Flyers with 18 points.

Lewis, a Division II school from Romeoville, Ill., went winless on its three-game exhibition road trip around the state.

The Flyers lost to Bradley 74-61 on Nov. 3, and fell to DePaul 66-53 last Friday.

Weber said the Illini’s close victory saved a disappointing weekend of Illini sports, following the football team’s 23-17 loss to Western Michigan on Saturday.

“It would have been pretty sad; there’s no doubt,” Weber said. “But give Lewis some credit. They played pretty well today. Now, we got a day off and three days to prepare. We got a couple big games next week.”