WASHINGTON, DC – The Firebirds led wire-to-wire as they used a strong defensive effort to push past non-conference foe, Felician College, 67-51 on Saturday afternoon in the second game of the D.C. Winter Classic hosted by the University of the District of Columbia.
Earlier in the day, No. 18 Shaw University handed No. 26 Assumption College a 63-44 loss in the first game of the tournament. Tomorrow features No. 18 Shaw vs. Felician at 1 p.m. and host District of Columbia vs. No. 26 Assumption at 3 p.m.
The Firebirds (6-5) held the Golden Falcons to 29-percent field goal shooting and forced 32 Felician turnovers. The Golden Falcons, who had won three of their last four, fell to 4-8 overall this season.
Senior guard Janelle Junior (Administration of Justice – Riverside, CA/La Sierra HS) led three Firebirds in double-figures, scoring a game-high 15 points on 7-of-10 from the field. Also, sophomore guard Denikka Brent (Mechanical Engineering – Chesapeake, VA/Booker T. Washington HS) came off the bench to register 11 points, a game-high five steals and four rebounds, and junior guard Julissa Anderson (Criminal Justice – Greensboro, NC/Southeast Guilford HS) scored eight points in the second half to finish with 10. Junior point guard Teara Shaw (Health Education – Bronx, NY/John F. Kennedy HS) also had a very productive offensive day with nine points and a game-high eight assists.
Jac'Quel Saunders was the only Golden Falcon to score in double-figures as she scored 13 points to lead Felician. Sierra McDuffie led the team in rebounds with eight.
Five different Firebirds scored during an 11-2 march to start the game over the first 3:35 of action, including a game-opening three-pointer by Junior. Felician would answer with a 7-0 spurt to cut the deficit to two after a jumper by Eliana Scanlon at the 15-minute mark, and later, a conventional three-point play by Saunders would bring the Falcons within one, 13-12 at the 13:07 mark. Leading 18-16 nearing the 11-minute mark, District of Columbia used an 8-0 run over the next four minutes to take a 26-16 advantage. Twice, Felician cut that lead down to five, but the Firebirds ended the first half on a 5-0 run to take a 36-26 lead into intermission.
The Firebirds took their biggest lead of the afternoon, 44-26 when they held Felician scoreless for nearly the first five minutes of second-half play as they went on an 8-0 surge. The Falcons did not go away though, as they mustered an 11-1 run over the next 4:23 to pull within eight (45-37) on a pair of Ashley Morris free-throws. District of Columbia regained a 12-point lead after a layup by junior forward Robin Keke (Biology – Bowie, MD/Bowie HS) and a pair of free-throws by Shaw, but Felician answered right back with a 5-0 run to shrink that lead to seven at the 7:13 mark. A three-pointer by Anderson at the 6:26 mark put the Firebirds up by 10, and they would maintain a double-digit lead the rest of the way before ultimately winning by a final score of 67-51.
District of Columbia out-shot their guests 41-percent to 29-percent from the field and was far better in assist/turnover ratio (14/21 to 7/32). The Firebirds turned the 32 Felician turnovers into 32 points compared to just 17 points off turnovers for the Falcons, and they outscored Felician, 24-8 in points in the paint.