LONG ISLAND, NY – The University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team withstood a series of late runs by UMass Lowell to come away with a 71-65 non-conference victory on Friday evening in the final day of the Pioneer Classic, hosted by C.W. Post.
"This was a good win today. The ladies came out focused and played hard for 40 minutes," head coach Lester Butler, Jr. said. "It was definitely good to get a win after a tough loss yesterday."
UDC improves to 9-2 on the season with the win while UMass Lowell, of the Northeast-10 Conference, falls to 4-7.
For the second day in a row, senior guard Lauren Brittingham (Washington, DC – Potomac HS) came off the bench to lead the Firebirds in scoring with a season-high 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the field (3-of-7 from long-range) while also dishing five assists. Senior Jamilia Bonner (Mobile, AL – Williamson HS), who managed just five points in a Firebirds loss yesterday, came through with 19 points today, including a pivotal layup at the 1:27 mark to up UDC's lead to five after UMass Lowell had made it a one-possession game. Stacy Griffith (Fredericksburg, VA – Riverbend HS) also had a big day for District of Columbia with 11 points and nine rebounds.
"Lauren gave us a lot of energy and scoring coming off the bench and Stacy and Dohnay Banice [nine rebounds] did an excellent job on the boards," Butler said.
UMass Lowell was led by Bianca Simmons (18 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Danielle DePierro (17 points). Erika Sjoberg also pitched in with 10 points and Sha'Nay Bushner registered a game-high 12 rebounds to go with seven points.
Both teams struggled to find their offensive rhythm early on as the score was still knotted at two apiece three-and-a-half minutes into the action when Sjoberg ignited an 11-3 Riverhawk surge to push UMass Lowell into a 13-5 advantage at the 14:37 mark. Julissa Anderson (Greensboro, NC – Southeast Guilford HS) responded for District of Columbia as she scored five points during a 10-1 Firebird run which culminated in a Brittingham three-pointer to put UDC ahead, 15-14 nearing the 11-minute mark. Two ties and five lead changes would ensue before Brittingham's jumper with 3:37 left before halftime put the Firebirds ahead to stay. Brittingham's jumper began what amounted to an 11-4 UDC run to close out the half as the Firebirds took a 35-29 lead into halftime.
Riding the momentum of the closing minutes of the first half, the Firebirds extended their lead to 14 with a 9-1 run to start the second half. Griffith scored four and Anderson hit another three during the run, and UDC was in control, up 44-30. The Firebirds led 51-35 as the game approached the 15-minute mark when Simmons led the Riverhawks on a frantic 18-2 run that took just under seven minutes and resulted in a 53-all tie at the 8:15 mark. Bonner would stop the bleeding for UDC as she knocked down a jumper, but a pair of Brianna Wilson free-throws for UML forced the fifth and final tie of the game at 55-all with 7:24 left to play. UDC would then score in consecutive possessions as Banice made a crucial jumper and Bonner followed with a big three to give the Firebirds a five-point cushion. Twice the Riversharks cut the deficit to three, but both times, District of Columbia was up to the challenge as Brittingham and Bonner both made crucial layups to up UDC's lead to five, and the Firebirds would ultimately go on to win by the score of 71-65.
UDC held a 44-percent to 34-percent shooting edge and a commanding 47-39 rebounding advantage. The Firebirds also benefitted from great bench play as its reserves outscored UML's 31-17.
The Firebirds will host East Coast Conference foe Queens College on Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m. For those who cannot make the game, there will be a live video webcast available online at udcfirebirds.com. Follow the "Video" link on the schedule page.