February 8, 2012

University of the District of Columbia Women’s Basketball Survives Late Scare; Earns 8th Straight Victory at NYIT

OLD WESTBURY, NY –  The No. 23 University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team saw its double-digit second half lead dissipate near the end of regulation, but scored 15 of the game's final 22 points including the last six to earn a 59-52 victory on the road at NYIT Wednesday night.

"This was a good road win," head coach Lester Butler, Jr. said. "NYIT played a good game and they did an excellent job making it tough for Lauren [Brittingham] and Janelle [Junior] to get going offensively. Stacy and Dohnay stepped up tonight and played a great game. I told our girls that if [NYIT] was going to play us with a small lineup, I wanted those two to use their size to score in the paint. I was very proud of them tonight."

The Firebirds, who won their eighth straight game, improved to 18-3 overall and 9-2 in the East Coast Conference. In other ECC action tonight, Dowling fell at home to St. Thomas Aquinas, 49-38, which means UDC moves to the top of the league standings and Dowling slips to No. 2. The Firebirds host Dowling in a battle of the top two teams in the ECC on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.

District of Columbia was led by strong interior play by senior forwards Stacy Griffith (Fredericksburg, VA – Riverbend HS) and Dohnay Banice (Wilmington, DE – Williamson HS). Griffith posted season-highs of 17 points and 15 rebounds and Banice registered 17 points and 11 rebounds. Senior guard Lauren Brittingham (Washington, DC – Potomac HS) also pitched in with 10 points, four assists and two steals.

NYIT (13-10, 6-5) dropped its third straight game and fell to 13-10 overall (6-5 ECC). The Bears were led by Rebecca Lynch, who had an impressive all-around performance that included a game-high 21 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

The first eight minutes of play featured three ties and six lead changes, but a pair of Griffith free-throws gave UDC a 10-9 advantage just before the 12-minute mark. Griffith's free-throws were the beginning of a 17-1 Firebirds run that propelled UDC to a 25-10 lead with 4:13 left in the first half. NYIT closed out the half on a 6-2 run and closed the gap to 11 as the two teams headed to the locker room for halftime.

The Firebirds extended their lead to 12 on a layup by Griffith at the 18:40 mark of the second half, but a 9-0 Bear attack over the next 2:30 cut the lead to three, 30-27. Still a one-possession game past the 14-minute mark, UDC went on a 10-2 run to create an 11-point cushion, 44-33 after a fast-break three-pointer by junior guard Janelle Junior (Riverside, CA – La Sierra HS). But over the next 6:40, NYIT went on a 12-0 run to take its first lead of the second half, 45-44 with 4:25 left to play. Once again though, UDC answered with a 7-0 run over the next 2:25, and grabbed a 51-45 lead on a Brittingham layup at the two-minute mark. Twice the Bears pulled within one, the final time coming after a Lynch layup with 41 seconds left in the game. The Firebirds, who were 19-of-21 at the foul line for the night, made 6-of-6 in the final 37 seconds to ice the game and won by the final score of 59-52.

NYIT had a slight field-goal shooting edge (36-percent to 35-percent), but the Firebirds cashed in at the charity stripe with 19 free-throws in 21 attempts (91-percent) while NYIT made just 6-of-12 (50-percent). UDC also won the rebounding battle, 43-35 and turned 17 offensive rebounds into 12 second-chance points.

Next up is the battle of one vs. two in the East Coast Conference as UDC hosts Dowling on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Dowling won the first meeting, 55-54 back on January 7th.