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University of the District of Columbia Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams Move Up in National Top-25 Polls

The Firebirds cracked the NABC/Division II national poll for the first time this season with a No. 22 ranking.
The Firebirds cracked the NABC/Division II national poll for the first time this season with a No. 22 ranking.

WASHINGTON, DC  –  The University of the District of Columbia men's basketball  and women's basketball teams have both earned top-25 national rankings for the second consecutive week in their respective national polls released on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012. The men's team earned their third, and highest national ranking of the season at No. 18 while the women were ranked a third consecutive week, moving up two spots to No. 23.

District of Columbia is now one of just five schools in Division II to have both its men's and women's basketball teams ranked in the top-25. The two Firebird teams have combined for the third most basketball wins in the nation with 41.

The Firebird men, who were ranked No. 22 in last week's National Association of Basketball Coaches' (NABC) poll, moved up four spots after two dominant victories last week at Mercy (111-68) and against Bridgeport (89-66). They are currently 21-3 overall and riding a seven-game win-streak heading into Wednesday night's East Coast Conference contest at home against Molloy College. They feature one of the best scoring backcourts in the nation in senior guards Nigel Munson (20.2 ppg) and Brandon Herbert (19.5 ppg). The two rank No. 25 and 34 in the nation, respectively.

Munson (Washington, DC – DeMatha HS) has earned three straight ECC player of the week honors, and this week he was accompanied by both Herbert (Baltimore, MD – McDonough HS) and fellow senior guard Dishawn Bradshaw (Baltimore, MD – St. Frances Academy), who both were Honor Roll selections. Junior forward Dyrek Jones (Brooklyn, NY – Bedford Academy HS) has also been a huge force in the paint for the Firebirds, as he has blocked 41 shots in the last six games and currently ranks 6th in the country for blocks per-game (3.0).  

Meanwhile, the women's team is 20-4 overall and has won 10 of its last 11 games, which included an eight-game win-streak. The Firebirds also started the season with a seven-game win-streak during which they beat last year's Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference champion, Goldey-Beacom College and then No. 18 ranked, Holy Family University. They were ranked No. 25 in last week's poll and moved up two spots after two decisive victories at Mercy (73-51) and against Bridgeport (78-56).

Head coach Lester Butler Jr.'s squad features a tenacious defense which ranks 12th in the nation for steals per-game with 13.1. Six different players on the squad have over 30 steals, and the team has combined for 312 thefts thus far.

The Firebirds have benefitted from great bench play of late, particularly from Julissa Anderson (Greensboro, NC – Southeast Guilford HS) and two-time ECC rookie of the week honoree, Denikka Brent (Chesapeake, VA – Booker T. Washington HS). UDC's bench has outscored its opponents' benches 85-27 the last two outings.

Both teams will look to continue their winning ways as they host East Coast Conference foe Molloy College for a Senior Night doubleheader on Wednesday, February 22nd at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.