INDIANAPOLIS - Tyler Sharpe scored 16 points and Jalen Tate added 14 on Tuesday, helping Northern Kentucky beat UIC 71-62 to lock up its second straight Horizon League Tournament title and earn another trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The second-seeded Norse (23-9) will make their third appearance in four seasons in the 68-team field after winning for the fourth time in five games.
Tarkus Ferguson finished with 15 points and Michael Diggins had 13 to lead fourth-seeded UIC (18-17).
Northern Kentucky looked like it would have no trouble pulling away when it took a 39-24 lead just 92 seconds into the second half.
But the Flames went on a 14-3 run to cut the deficit to 42-38 with 14:02 to go.
Northern Kentucky answered by forcing eight missed shots and three turnovers over the next seven minutes while scoring 11 consecutive points to retake a 53-38 lead.
UIC never challenged again.
UIC: Despite posting a fourth straight season with at least 16 wins, the school's longest run since the early 1990s, the Flames' season likely ended Tuesday. Even with two 30-plus point wins on the road, their resume probably isn't strong enough to overcome the 17 losses to make the NIT field.
Northern Kentucky: The Norse have been the most dominant team in the Horizon League over the past three seasons. But even with 23 wins, Northern Kentucky will likely have to play its way out of a low seed to advance next week.
UIC: Lost in its first conference final appearance since 2004, which is also the last time it made the NCAA Tourney. ... The Flames had 18 turnovers and were 3 of 15 on 3-pointers. ... Ferguson, who scored a season-high 25 points in Monday's semifinal victory over regular-season champion Wright State, also had seven rebounds and three assists. ... Marcus Ottey had 12 points and six rebounds while Jordan Blount had 10 points and five rebounds.
Northern Kentucky: The Norse shot 50% from the field and were 6 of 21 on 3s against the Horizon League's top defense in both categories. ... Dantez Walton had 10 points and nine rebounds, becoming the 29th member of the school's 1,000-point club. He now has 1,008 points. ... Tate also had four rebounds and four assists before fouling out. ... Trevon Faulkner scored 12 points.
UIC: Must wait to see if it makes a postseason tournament.
Northern Kentucky: Finds out its next opponent on Selection Sunday.