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Firebirds Stick it to Panthers 74-50

WASHINGTON, DC: FEBRUARY 14, 2007—It was Valentines Day according to the calendar, and the love displayed by University of the District of Columbia Firebirds for the game of basketball  was quite evident as they took apart Claflin University’s Basketball Team in all categories tonight, defeating them 74-50, at home. Junior guard Charlie Smallwood (Palmer Park, MD) led the Firebirds to the win for the eighth time this season. Smallwood scored 22 points and grabbed 3 rebounds during the game. He is the team’s overall scoring leader, averaging 16.5 points per game.

UDC took an early lead, which they never relinquished or allowed Claflin to tie. Smallwood doubled the lead to 16-9 at the 14:43 mark on a 3-pointer, with an assist by junior guard Frank Petersen (Silver Spring, MD). The Firebirds continued to pour it on with a 6-0 run and 6:03 remaining in the first half, when junior guard Antwon Hawkins (Mitchellville, MD) hit a 3-pointer  and Rasheed Cole (junior forward- Clinton, MD)  made 3  free throws to raise the score to 31-19.

Claflin closed to within 8 points near the end of the half when Brian Johnson sank a three- pointer on an assist by Ernest Sinkfield, with 2 seconds remaining. UDC took a 34-26 lead into the locker room at the break, on 48 percent (12-25) two-point field goal shooting, 56 percent (5-9) three-point shooting, and 56 percent (5-9) free throw shooting.

Claflin shot 33 percent (9-27) from two-point range, 43 percent (3-7) from three- point range and 71 percent (5-7) from the charity line.

Ernest Sinkfield opened the second half with a 3-pointer for Claflin, on an assist from Brian Johnson to bring the score to within 5 points (34-29). The game stayed fairly close with Claflin coming to within four points at the 19:37 mark when Sinkfield was fouled while sinking a 3-pointer, and made a free throw to make the score 34-30. 

The Firebirds began to pull away again when Smallwood made a lay-up at the 11:36 mark to make the score 48-39, and continue a 6-0 run, bringing the score to 53-39. UDC then had a 12-0 run at the 5:59 mark, which was ignited by junior guard Frank Petersen’s two free-throws that raised the score to 68-44, and Claflin could not recover.

UDC shot 49 percent (27-55) from two-point range, 36 percent (5-14) from three-point range, and 65 percent (15-23) from the charity line for the game.

Also scoring in double figures for the Firebirds were Hawkins, who posted a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds, and junior forward Willie Shaw who scored 14 points and collected 4 rebounds. Shaw is currently ranked 11th in the country, in rebounding, among NCAA Division II schools .

Two players led the Panthers in scoring. Jerome Starr and Ernest Sinkfield both scored 12 points.

The Firebirds, now 15-7 for the season, will return to action at home, on Monday, February 19, in the second game of a double header when they take on the West Chester University Golden Rams. They defeated the Golden Rams 71-61 on February 7, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The Lady Firebirds will play the Columbia Union Lady Pioneers in the first game of the double-header at 6 p.m.