WASHINGTON, DC – The second of Dishawn Bradshaw's pair of free-throws with just two seconds remaining in regulation was the difference in the game as St. Thomas Aquinas' Omar Kellman swished a 90-foot three-point attempt at the buzzer to no avail, and the University of the District of Columbia eked out a 63-62 victory on Saturday at UDC Gym.
"This was a good win," head coach Jeff Ruland said. "I thought we played very good defense. Our offense was not exactly stellar, but credit St. Thomas Aquinas, because they played real hard."
The Firebirds, who's 63-point scoring output was a season-low, improved to 16-3 overall and 7-2 in the East Coast Conference while STAC fell to 7-11 overall and 3-6 in league play.
Senior guard Brandon Herbert (Baltimore, MD – McDonough HS) led District of Columbia in scoring with 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Sophomore forward Ziad Ashmawy (Cairo, Egypt – American City College) registered a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Bradshaw (Baltimore, MD – St. Frances HS) registered 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Nigel Munson (Washington, DC – DeMatha HS), who came in averaging 20.6 points per-game, was held to just seven points on 1-of-13 shooting from the field, but found a way to make his impact felt with a game-high seven assists and six rebounds.
UDC was out-shot 40-percent to 35-percent from the field and made just 3-of-15 (20%) from long-range while STAC converted 8-of- 19 (42%). However, the Firebirds had a clear advantage on the boards, winning the rebounding battle 48-36 and outscoring the Spartans, 32-20 in the paint. UDC turned 16 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points for the day.
The first half featured four ties and seven lead changes, but the Firebirds closed out the half on a 14-4 run to take a 32-24 advantage into the intermission. Herbert, who led all first half scorers with 10 points, scored the final points of the half on a layup with just over a minute left before the break.
STAC scored six of the first eight points in the second half to cut the deficit to 36-32 nearing the 16-minute mark. The Spartans kept it a two-possession game until just past the 12-minute mark when UDC went on a 5-0 run to widen the gap to 10 on an and-one layup by Brandon Ennis (Ontario, Canada – Brampton). The Firebirds still led by nine, 56-47 with 2:42 to go when a 9-2 Spartan surge pulled STAC within two after a three-pointer by Irin Stark with 30 seconds showing on the clock. A Herbert layup and 1-of-2 trip at the foul line by Munson upped UDC's lead back to five, but Stark answered back with another quick three with just six ticks left to once again make it a two-point game, 61-59. The Firebirds played keep-away after the inbounds pass and ran off a few seconds before Bradshaw was fouled with :02 to go. He sank both to make it a two-possession game, and although Kellman's 90-foot heave was good, the Firebirds still came away with the victory, 63-62.
UDC has a week off before it goes on the road to take on ECC foe Queens College on Saturday, February 4th at 5:30 p.m.