WASHINGTON, DC - Janelle Junior shot 7-of-8 from the field and led all Firebird scorers with 17 points as the University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team pulled away from Molloy in the second half for a 70-51 East Coast Conference victory on Wednesday night at UDC Gym.
"I was really glad Janelle was able to get her shot going tonight," head coach Lester Butler, Jr. said. "We're going to need her this Saturday at C.W. Post."
No. 23 District of Columbia improved to 21-4 overall and 12-3 in league play while Molloy fell to 11-15 overall and 7-9 in the ECC. In other ECC action, Dowling defeated Mercy 66-47 to stay tied with UDC atop the league standings, and St. Thomas Aquinas defeated Bridgeport, 68-59. With that Bridgeport loss, Molloy has clinched the sixth and final ECC playoff spot.
Both teams shot very well from the field, with the Firebirds owning a 48-percent to 44-percent advantage. They were also the more efficient offensive team with 18 assists to 14 turnovers while Molloy had 14 assists and 23 turnovers. The Firebirds turned those 23 Lion miscues into 33 points for the night and scored 16 points on the fast break. UDC, which is now 13-0 when out-rebounding its opponent, dominated on the boards, 34-26, aided by eight rebounds apiece by senior forwards Dohnay Banice (Wilmington, DE – Williamson HS) and Stacy Griffith (Fredericksburg, VA – Riverbend HS).
Molloy knocked down two three-pointers while UDC missed its first seven shots, and the Lions led 6-0 four minutes into the game. A jumper by Griffith and four straight points by Brittingham evened the score at six-apiece, but the Lions answered with a 5-0 run to go in front, 11-6.
The Firebirds went on to score nine of the game's next 13 points and tie the game at 15-all on a three-pointer by Junior. Later, Junior would come down with an offensive rebound and make the put-back to send the game to its third tie of the night, 17-17. Then, she forced a steal and ran the fast-break at the other end, getting the assist on Jasmine Rich's layup for the Firebirds' first lead of the game at the 8:06 mark, 19-17. Those two baskets sparked a 10-0 Firebirds run which put UDC ahead25-17.
The hosts would lead by as many as 12 after a Brittingham layup at the two-minute mark, and they would head to the locker room with a 34-24 advantage at halftime.
The second-half began as a three-point shoot-out as both teams traded a pair of three-pointers over the first 4:07 after the break. UDC still led by 10 at the 14-minute mark when the Lions used a 6-0 charge to pull within four (42-38) on an Amanda Bartlett three-pointer. The Firebirds answered with two quick buckets by Brent and Aida Gueye (Alexandria, VA – T.C. Williams Senior HS) to push their lead back to eight, 46-38.
District of Colulmbia's lead was still just eight points as the clock ticked past the eight-minute mark when Junior scored nine straight points to put the Firebirds in cruise control, up 60-43. The hosts led by as many as 21 after a three-pointer by Snezana Blagojevic (Kragujevac, Serbia – Towson Catholic HS) at the 2:44 mark, and they went on to win, 70-51.
Lauren Brittingham, one of seven Firebird seniors playing their last game in UDC Gym on Senior Night, turned in 12 points, six assists and three steals. Griffith finished with eight points and eight rebounds, Banice had seven points and eight rebounds, and senior guard Brittany Clements (Washington, DC – Archbishop Carroll HS) knocked down two treys to finish with a season-high six points. Captain Jasmine Rich (Willingboro, NJ – Willingboro HS), a four-year Firebird veteran, also pitched in with two points, five assists and two steals. UDC finished the season 11-1 at home this season.
"It was a bittersweet day for me," Butler said. "I was happy that we got the win and we were able to send the seniors off on a winning note, but it saddens me that this was their last game in this gym. These seven ladies have really contributed to the program's success over the years.
"Aida and Brittany work so hard in practice, so I was really glad we got them good minutes tonight, and they both played well.
The Firebirds will wrap up the regular season with an away contest at ECC foe C.W. Post University on Saturday, February 25th at 1:30 p.m. The event will be broadcast by the conference as part of the ECC Doubleheader of the Week.