DOBBS FERRY, NY – The No. 25 University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team used a 15-1 run to take a 23-8 lead halfway through the first stanza and the visiting Firebirds soared to a 73-51 victory over East Coast Conference foe Mercy College on Wednesday night.
"This was a good team win," head coach Lester Butler, Jr. said. "I challenged the ladies to go out and play with a lot of heart and passion today. I think the Dowling game [62-41 loss last Saturday] was a wake-up call, and we had to get back to playing good fundamental basketball on both ends of the court."
The Firebirds, who were picked No. 5 in the first East region poll of the season today, improved to 19-4 overall and 10-3 in league play. Mercy fell to 2-21 overall (2-11 ECC). In other ECC action, Dowling suffered a 56-51 defeat at Molloy tonight, which puts UDC and Dowling back into a tie for first-place in the league standings.
District of Columbia had 11 players enter the scoring column tonight, including three in double-figures. Senior forward Stacy Griffith (Fredericksburg, VA – Riverbend HS) had a game-high 14 points to go with seven rebounds and three steals. Julissa Anderson (Greensboro, NC – Southeast Guilford) and Monet Nias (Glen Burnie, MD – Old Mill HS) also had 12 and 10 points, respectively. Freshman Denikka Brent (Chesapeake, VA – Booker T. Washington HS) had a game and season-high 13 rebounds, and Lauren Brittingham (Washington, DC – Potomac HS) had a game-high eight assists.
Mercy was led by Jessica Biggs and MarQuesha Moore, who scored 10 and nine points, respectively. Talia Beaulieu had seven points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Meanwhile, the Maverick's top scorer, and third-ranked scorer in the conference, Jasmine Williams, managed just seven points and five rebounds.
Senior point guard Jasmine Rich (Willingboro, NJ – Willingboro HS) scored the Firebirds first two buckets of the night, and helped the Firebirds to an 8-7 advantage just past the 15-minute mark of the first half. Then, beginning with a layup by Nias off of a gorgeous feed from Brittingham, the Firebirds went on a 15-1 run that catapulted them to a 23-8 advantage near the 10-minute mark. Still leading 26-14 at the 5:50 mark, UDC closed out the half on a 15-4 run, with its final five points coming from Anderson. The Firebirds took a commanding 39-19 lead into the break.
Ty Abilla (Galloway, NJ – Absegami) scored the first points of the second half, and the Firebirds never let their lead dip under 20 as they coasted to their ninth win in their last 10 games. UDC grew its lead to as many as 32 after a three-pointer by Anderson at the 7:41 mark, and they went on to win comfortably, 73-51.
The Firebirds, who came in ranked No. 12 in the nation in steals per-game, came up with 17 thefts and forced a total of 32 Mercy turnovers. They also held the Mavericks to 33-percent shooting and dominated the rebounding battle, 53-42.
"I think Julissa, Monet, and Stacy really got us going offensively but Denikka was very active on the defensive end and she really rebounded the ball well tonight. Anytime you can get 11 players in the scoring column that's a good team effort."
With this win, UDC has swept three East Coast Conference teams in its inaugural season as a member in the league. The Firebirds host University of Bridgeport on Saturday, February 18th at 1:00 p.m.