ROCHESTER, NY – The University of the District of Columbia men's basketball team was defeated by host Roberts Wesleyan College, 76-68 in East Coast Conference action Friday night at Voller Athletic Center.
In a game that featured 14 lead changes and 10 ties (including a 37-all draw at halftime), and never saw a lead greater than eight points by either team, UDC (1-8, 0-2 ECC) wound up on the wrong side of the largest margin of the night at the final horn for its 5th loss this season by less than 10 points.
The Firebirds were led offensively by guards Khalil Jackson and Danny Shand, who both scored season and game-highs of 17 points. Jackson shot 6-of-8 from the field and 5-of-9 from the foul line while also hauling in seven rebounds, and Shand was 5-of-12 from the field, including 3-of-4 from three-point range.
The Redhawks (8-2, 1-0 ECC), who had lost two of their last three games, opened ECC play with a win tonight courtesy of five double-figure scorers, including four starters. Starting forwards Jean Toussaint and Manny Joseph teamed up to give the hosts a big lift in the 2nd half. Toussaint scored 13 of his team-high 16 points in the closing half, and Manny Joseph scored nine of his 12 points and hauled in seven of his game-high nine rebounds to help the Redhakws out-score UDC 39-31 in the closing half.
A see-saw battle early on, Isaiah Lewis' (14 points, three rebounds, four assists)three-pointer about five minutes in gave RWC a 10-8 lead, but freshman forward Maurice Waters ignited a 7-0 burst by the Firebirds that launched UDC in front by what would be its largest margin of the night, 15-10. Waters fired up his team with an and-one layup, converting the free-throw that followed for the three-point play, and capped the run with a layup at the 13:43 mark. Ten straight Roberts Wesleyan points by Lewis, which included three, three-pointers, would give RWC a 20-19 lead at the 11:22 mark, and later Justin Vaughan put the finishing touches on a 13-4 run by the Redhawks with a three-pointer to make the score, 23-19.Though UDC never took another lead in the first half, it forced three more ties, including the 37-all tie to end the half after a three-pointer by Shand.
Shand kicked off the 2nd half by knocking down back-to-back three-pointers to give UDC a 43-39 lead approaching two minutes in. Roberts Wesleyan responded, though, out-scoring UDC, 15-5 over the next five minutes and opening up a six-point lead, 54-48 after a layup by Joseph at the 13:42 mark. The Firebirds then slowly and methodically chipped away at that deficit, scoring the game's next five points over a span of nearly four minutes to pull within one, 54-53.
The Firebirds would make it a one-point game three more times before finally taking back the lead, 62-60 on a three-pointer by junior guard Kevin Cox near the five-minute mark. The lead changed hands twice more, and the final tie of the night (68-68) occurred at the 1:12 mark on a made jump shot by Shand. Roberts Wesleyan took the lead for good on a layup by Toussaint with 54 seconds remaining. Toussaint would then come up with a steal at the other end, which led to a pair of free-throws by Peyton McLaurin (13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals). Including McLaurin's pair, the Redhawks made 6-of-6 at the line to close the game out while holding UDC scoreless the final 1:12 of regulation.
Next up, UDC will visit non-regional foe West Liberty State in West Liberty, WV on Tuesday, December 19th at 4 p.m.