February 25, 2011

UDC falls in first game of 2011 Independent Tournament

Washington, DC: February 25, 2011  - The UDC women's basketball team (17-9) couldn't complete their second-half comeback, as they fell to the King College Tornadoes (10-15), 72-69 tonight at the UDC sports complex. The two teams were meeting for the third time this season as part of the 2011 Independent Invitational Women's Basketball Classic, hosted by UDC. The Firebirds had won the two previous meetings this season by a combined 17 points, and were seeded #1 entering the tournament.

However, UDC didn't play like the top seed in the first half, shooting just 12 of 35 (34.3%) from the field and 3 of 12 (25.0%) from long distance in the first half. They also got out-rebounded 20-18 in the period, and turned the ball over 9 times, which resulted in 12 points for King. The Tornadoes, meanwhile, made 14 of 31 (45.2%) field goals in the first half including 5 of 10 (50.0%) three-pointers to take a five point lead into the locker room at the break, 34-29.

The impressive long distance shooting continued for the Tornadoes at the beginning of the second half, as they knocked down two three-pointers in their first four possessions to take a 7 point lead with 18:31 remaining. The lead hovered around that margin for the majority of the second half, until there was just 1:06 remaining and the Firebirds came storming back.

First senior forward Lillian McGill (Admin. Of Justice – Sumter, SC) grabbed a rebound off of a missed UDC three-point attempt and put it back in for a lay-up, to cut the Firebirds deficit to 5. Then, graduate student Niqky Hughes (Public Administration – Fort Worth, TX) came up with a steal on the Tornadoes inbounds pass, which led to a wide-open lay-up for her and two more points for the Firebirds. After a King timeout, junior guard Kendra Johnson (Mass Media – Mt. Laurel, NJ) forced a Tornadoes turnover on their next possession, and she quickly got the ball into the hands of Hughes, who then got fouled with 0:48 remaining. Hughes was able to hit both foul shots and the Firebirds deficit was down to just one point, but that's as close as UDC would get as King would not miss from the free-throw line the remainder of the game, and UDC turned the ball over its next possession.

Despite the loss, there were four Firebirds who finished in double-figures. McGill led the way with 22 points and 14 rebounds, while Hughes finished with 18 points and 6 boards. Freshman forward Dohnay Banice (Business Administration – Wilmington, DE) also had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds (8 offensive), and Johnson added 11 points on 5 of 12 shooting from the field.

The leading scorer for the Tornadoes was senior forward Ashley Deans, who had her third straight game against the Firebirds with at-least 20 points. She finished with exactly 20 points and 5 rebounds. Sophomore guard Brooke Johnson went 4 of 8 from downtown and totaled 16 points, and sophomore guard Brittany Kinser added 15 points, going a perfect 3 of 3 from long range.

The win for the Tornadoes means they will now face Washington Adventist tomorrow night at 7:00pm, while the loss for UDC means they will face Central State University tomorrow at 3:00pm at the UDC sports complex. The Firebirds game tomorrow will be a pink zone game, and fans are encouraged to wear pink to help support the fight against breast cancer. If you cannot make it to the game, the audio will be available online by going to the UDC athletics website www.udcfirebirds.com and clicking on the "audio" link that will be posted under the scheduled game in the upper right-hand corner of the home page.