Guard Nick Gruninger hit a layup with 2.6 seconds remaining to give UC-Riverside a 57-56 victory over Illinois-Chicago on Friday night in Riverside, Calif.
Guard Kelsey Barlow, whose runner in the lane had given Illinois-Chicago a 56-55 lead with 9.1 seconds left, missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Flames lost the opener of their two-game western swing. They are at Colorado State on Monday night.
The Flames (5-7) had their modest two-game winning streak snapped and the Highlanders (4-6) halted a two-game slide.
Barlow led all scorers with 17 points, including 13 in the second half.
Forward Chris Patton led UC-Riverside with 15 points, with 13 coming in the first half.
The Flames trailed 40-30 less than four minutes into the second half before beginning a comeback that put them in position for the win.
Forward Hayden Humes started it with a 3-pointer, but Barlow was the major contributor. He scored nine points in a 14-3 UIC run, giving the Flames a 44-43 lead on another 3-pointer with 12:06 remaining.
After UC-Riverside guard Sam Finley countered with a 3-pointer, the Flames scored the next six points to take a 50-46 lead with 9:44 remaining, but they couldn't hold on.
The Highlanders began a comeback of their own and regained the lead on a 3-pointer by Finley that made it 55-54 with 3:09 left.
The two teams didn't score again for the next three minutes, setting up the furious finish.