Kelsey Barlow scored a career-high 17 points as Illinois-Chicago ended San Diego's five-game winning streak in a 74-70 battle in the opening round of the Gulf Coast Showcase on Monday.
It was a see-saw affair, with 12 lead changes and neither team was up by more than seven points.
UIC moves on to face Louisiana Tech on Tuesday.
Barlow was just 3-of-13 shooting, making just one of his 7 3-pointers, but made 10 of 13 free throws for UIC (2-3). The Flames also got 13 points from Marc Brown, while Gabe Snider and Jake Wiegand added 11 apiece.
The teams combined to shoot 59 free throws - UIC made 22 and the Toreros 20.
San Diego (5-1) was led by Johnny Dee with 19, Duda Sanadze had 14 and Christopher Anderson, Dennis Kramer added 13 apiece.