WASHINGTON, DC – Senior guard Brandon Herbert scored 20 of his game-high 27 points in the second half and the University of the District of Columbia men's basketball team pulled away from East Coast Conference foe Mercy with a 30-5 power surge in the second half en-route to a lopsided, 90-58 victory on Wednesday night at UDC Gym.
The Firebirds (14-2, 5-1 ECC) put five scorers in double-figures tonight, including Herbert (Baltimore, MD – McDonough HS), Nigel Munson (Washington, DC – DeMatha HS) with 20 points, Keith Brooks (Harlem, NY – Monsignor McClancy HS) with 13, Ziad Ashmawy (Cairo, Egypt – American City College) with 11 and Dishawn Bradshaw (Baltimore, MD – St. Frances Academy) with 10.
According to head coach Jeff Ruland, Bradshaw was the team's most valuable player on this night because he helped hold the Maverick's leading scorer, Colin Senior, to just seven points and 2-of-14 shooting from the field.
"Dishawn really set the tone for us with his defense," Ruland said. "We got back to playing defense tonight, and we executed well offensively, particularly in the second half. Anytime you have more assists than turnovers, you know you're doing something right."
The Firebirds combined for 20 assists and just seven turnovers tonight while Mercy handed out just seven assists and had a total of 15 turnovers. UDC turned those 15 Maverick miscues into 20 points.
Mercy was led by its interior players Joseph Pope (14 points, nine rebounds) and Jordan Lee (12 points, 10 rebounds). The Mavericks held a 43-38 rebounding edge and outscored UDC 36-24 in the paint. They also had 16 second-chance points to the Firebirds' three.
Meanwhile, District of Columbia out-shot Mercy 48-percent to 36-percent from the field and made 15-of-28 shots from long-range while the Mavericks managed just 1-of-9 from behind-the-arc. Herbert led the way with his game-high seven three-pointers while Munson and Bradshaw each made a pair of treys as well.
Mercy's Kortney Parker drove to the hoop for a layup to score the first points of the game and Mercy had an early 8-5 advantage after a Pope layup at the 16:14 mark. Munson's jumper at the 16:02 mark ignited a 21-6 Firebirds run over the next eight minutes and UDC led 26-14 with eight minutes to play in the half. The hosts extended their lead to 15 with a pair of free-throws by Ashmawy at the 3:14 mark, but Mercy closed out the first half on a 6-0 run and closed the gap to nine (35-26) as the two teams went into the break.
Riding the momentum of their first half finish, Mercy went on a 12-3 charge to start the second half and tied the score at 38 on a layup by Pope. With the score knotted again at 40-all, Munson hit a jumper to put UDC ahead for good at the 14:26 mark. The Firebirds broke the 40-40 tie with 11 straight points and went on to outscore Mercy, 50-18 in the final 15 minutes of play (55-32 for the entire second half). UDC connected on 10 shots from long-range during that stretch, with Herbert making six of them. The Firebirds went on to win by their second-largest margin of the season, 32 points.
Next up, the Firebirds will host the top team in the ECC standings, C.W. Post on Saturday, January 21st at 3:00 p.m. Fans who cannot make the game can tune in to a live video webcast via www.udcfirebirds.com.