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Firebirds Tame Tigers for 73-67 Comeback Win

Kevin Cox led the Firebirds with 19 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high seven steals.
Kevin Cox led the Firebirds with 19 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high seven steals.

WASHINGTON, DC – The University of the District of Columbia men's basketball team earned a 73-67 come-from-behind win vs. Holy Family University in East Region non-conference play Sunday afternoon at UDC Gym.

The Firebirds (7-4) have now won seven of their last nine games, including their last two. UDC trailed by as many as 15 midway through the first half, but a 26-4 spell that spanned both halves put the Firebirds ahead to stay.

The Tigers (4-4), members of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, lost their 2nd straight game. They made 10 of their first 12 field goal attempts of the game to race out to a 27-12 lead, but went on to shoot just 3-of-15 the rest of the first half and saw their lead shrink to two, 37-35 at intermission.

UDC, having closed the final four minutes of the first half on an 11-0 burst, carried the momentum into the 2nd half where they out-scored HFU 15-4 in the opening five minutes. By that time, the Firebirds had their largest lead of the game, 50-41.

Holy Family did counter after that nine-minute spell that spanned the halves, as the Tigers scored seven straight points to close within two, 50-48. Danny Shand had the answer for UDC, though, burying his only three-pointer of the game to kick-start a 7-0 Firebirds response. He would later cap the run with a layup at 10:19 to pad UDC's lead to nine once again. Holy Family never got any closer than five points the rest of the way.

Three of UDC's five starters scored in double-figures, including a double-double effort by senior guard Kevin Cox. The Grenada native registered team-bests of 19 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high seven steals. This marks his 2nd point-rebound double-double of the season and the 6th of his two-year UDC career.

Cox was joined in double-figures by junior backcourt mate Zachary Olukanni with 16 points and five rebounds, and senior point guard Quadire Truesdale with 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals.

UDC also got valuable contributions from its bench, as senior guard Danny Shand added nine points, four rebounds, two steals and an assist, and freshman guard Juanye Colon pitched in seven points and four rebounds. Colon knocked down a big three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to lift the Firebirds' spirit at halftime, and also giving UDC a lift just before halftime was junior transfer forward Kenneth Stancell, who blocked two shots in back-to-back possessions in the final minute of play.

HFU also featured three starters in double-figures, including a game-high 24 points by guard Patrick Robinson. In addition, two Tiger forwards posted double-doubles – Branden Aughburns with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and Vincenzo Dalessandro with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Holy Family shot 48-percent from the field in the first half, but just 32-percent in the 2nd half, so it was UDC shooting slightly better from the field for the game (39-percent to 38-percent). Free-throw shooting also favored the Firebirds, who made 14-of-19 (74-percent) to HFU's 9-of-14 (64-percent).

UDC was out-rebounded, 47-43, but had one more assist (12-11), two fewer turnovers (13-11), five more points off of turnovers (14-9) and five more 2nd chance points (17-12). Also, the Firebird reserves doubled-up Holy Family's, 16-8.

The Firebirds will break for the winter holidays and return to action on Saturday, December 29th when they host regional non-conference foe Dominican College. Tip-off is at 1 p.m.