WASHINGTON, DC – The No. 25 University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team's bench outscored Bridgeport's, 43-9 as the Firebirds coasted to a 78-56 victory in East Coast Conference play on Saturday afternoon at UDC Gym.
With the win, District of Columbia (20-4, 11-3 ECC) earned its first 20-win season since 2008-09, when the Firebirds went 24-5. This is head coach Lester Butler, Jr.'s third 20-win season at UDC, and the program's sixth. UDC stays tied with Dowling for the top spot in the conference standings. Bridgeport fell to 8-16 overall and 6-8 in league play.
"This was a great weekend for the entire athletic department. Having the opportunity to meet the 1982 men's national championship team on Friday night at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and play in front of them today really meant a lot to us," Butler said. "We wanted to come out and put on a good performance today, and we did just that."
Leading the charge offensively for the Firebirds were starting point guard Lauren Brittingham (Washington, DC – Potomac HS) with 18 points and three assists, as well as reserve guards Julissa Anderson and Denikka Brent with 15 points apiece. Anderson was a season-best, 5-of-5 from behind-the-arc and Brent was 6-of-9 from the field and 3-of-4 from the foul line.
"We were able to shoot the ball very well today, and we continue to play great defense," Butler said. "Lauren came out and got us going early, but I think Denikka and Julissa are really starting to take their games to another level. We're going to need them to continue to play well going into the tournament."
Bridgeport has now lost three of its last four games and failed to gain any ground on Molloy (L 90-42 vs. C.W. Post) today for the sixth and final playoff spot. The Purple Knights were led by Tanisha Carter's game-highs of 25 points and 10 rebounds.
Brittingham scored UDC's first 11 points within the first three minutes of the game, and the Firebirds led 11-8 approaching the 16-minute mark when a Janelle Junior (Riverside, CA – La Sierra HS) sparked a 17-3 surge to put the host's in control, 28-11 at the 9:42 mark. Brent scored six points during that run as she had 10 of her 15 points in the first half.
Still leading by 15, Junior hit another three-pointer that again ignited a Firebirds rally resulting in six straight points, as UDC took its biggest lead of the half, 36-15 on a Ty Abilla (Galloway, NJ – Absegami HS) layup with just over two minutes before intermission. The Firebirds, who out-shot Bridgeport from the field 57-percent to 13-percent and held the Knights to just four first-half field goals, would take a comfortable, 38-19 advantage into the break.
Bridgeport, despite 20 second-half points by Carter, never got any closer to UDC than 16 points in the second half as Anderson knocked down four of her game-high five three-pointers in the second half. The second of her second-half long-range shots gave UDC its largest lead of the afternoon, 59-32, near the 12-minute mark. Brittingham pitched in seven points, and the Firebird reserves combined for 26 points, as UDC went on to win comfortably, 78-56.
District of Columbia out-shot UB 48-percent to 24-percent for the afternoon, and made 9-of-13 (69-percent) from three-point range while holding the Purple Knights to 2-of-14 from long-range. Turnovers were equal at 24, but the Firebirds doubled up the Knights in assists, 14-7.
Next up for UDC is the Firebirds final home game of the season against Molloy College. The university will honor all seven seniors before the game, which tips off at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22nd.