CHICAGO – The Miami University women’s basketball team made a spirited comeback in the second half, coming from 23 points behind to pull to as close as five, but UIC hit its free throws down the stretch to secure a 76-66 victory on Saturday. The RedHawks fall to 1-3 on the season, while the Flames improve to 3-2.

Senior guard Hannah Robertson led Miami with 17 points on 7-for-15 shooting. After allowing UIC to hit eight 3-point baskets in the first half as the Flames went in front, 46-29, the RedHawks allowed only one triple in the second half as they nearly completed the comeback.

UIC came out on fire to begin the game, hitting six of its first nine shots, two of which were three pointers to jump to a 15-2 advantage. Sophomore forward Hannah McCue hit a pair of free throws, while freshman forward Nicole Anderson hit a jumper, but the Flames were able to increase the lead to 24-6. After a free throw by Anderson and a layup from Hannah Robertson, UIC hit another three to secure its largest lead of the game at 32-9 with 7:12 remaining in the half.

Junior guard Kindsay Brandt hit back-to-back three-pointers as part of a 12-6 run that cut the deficit to 17 at 38-21 with 3:05 to go. The Flames responded with an 8-2 run of their own to return the advantage to 23 at 46-23, but senior guard Haley Robertson and Hannah Robertson closed the half with back-to-back shots from behind the arc, foreshadowing Miami’s second-half comeback attempt and sending the RedHawks into the break down 17 at 46-29.

UIC shot 17-for-26 (65.4 percent) for the first half, including 8-for-13 (61.5 percent) from behind the arc.  Miami shot 10-for-29 (34.5 percent) and 4-for-7 (57.1 percent) during the opening period. Hannah Robertson led the ‘Hawks with nine points, while Brandt added eight.

Trailing 52-35 after a free throw from returning senior forward Erica Almady, McCue hit back-to-back layups. She was fouled on the second layup, and converted the free throw for a three-point play that cut the lead to 52-40 with 13:51 to go. A jumper by freshman guard Jillian Spurlock and a layup from Almady got the advantage under double digits at 52-44 at the 12:30 mark.

The Flames eventually regained a 13-point lead at 66-53 with 4:49 to go. The RedHawks did not give up as a three from McCue and a layup by Haley Robertson made it 66-58. Trailing by nine with two minutes remaining, Haley Robertson hit a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to seven. After UIC missed a pair of free throws, Brandt found Almady down low for the layup to make it 71-66 with 1:35 remaining. Anderson blocked UIC’s next shot to begin a fast break attempt as the ‘Hawks tried to cut the advantage to three, but they were unable to convert. The Flames hit their final five free throws down the stretch to secure the 76-66 win.

Miami’s defense was much stronger in the second half, holding UIC to 7-for-23 (30.4 percent) shooting. That included allowing only one 3-point make in five attempts. Miami shot 14-for-32 (43.8 percent) in the second period, finishing 24-for-61 (39.3 percent) for the game.

In addition to Hannah Robertson’s 17 points, McCue finished with 10 points, while Haley Robertson, Anderson and Almady each had nine. Almady led the RedHawks with four assists, while Hannah Robertson and McCue each finished with five rebounds. UIC finished with a 36-35 rebounding advantage and was led by Rachel Story with 23 points.

Miami returns to action on Tuesday when it hosts Duquesne for a 7 p.m. contest. That is the first Dollar Days game of the season, and admission for all fans is only $1.