Thursday, January 31, 2013

UDC Continues Slide, Loses to Bridgeport

UDC's Brandon Ennis defends in 90-67 loss to Bridgeport

At the rate they're falling, assistant coach Terrell Stokes and perhaps even head coach Jeff Ruland may have to consider suiting up... just in order to dress five. The UDC Firebirds lost yet another starter to injury last night and wound up losing to ECC leader Bridgeport 90-67 before a listless crowd at the University Sports Complex.

The listless crowd bears mentioning, as Ruland's team played valiantly before as unappreciative an audience as I've seen in a long time. I realize the Firebirds are now 2-16, but if you can't cheer on junior Quasim Jones' one-man wrecking crew... then you're the one with a problem. Jones scored 21 points on  8-18 shooting, including three treys and several circus shots. Already playing without injured stars Michael Terry and Ziad Ashmawy, UDC lost senior guard Keith Brooks to a left ankle injury towards the end of the second half. With former shot swatter Dyrek Jones looking on from the stands, it was yet another reminder of what could have been this season.

The Firebirds shot a relatively poor 35.4% from the field; but without any post presence, it was hard to find an open shot. The same inside deficiency accounted for a 53-32 disadvantage on the boards. Bridgeport's 6'6 junior center Ivan Simic had his way down low, hitting 9 of 13 shots for 20 points, including 14 in a decisive first half that saw UDC fall behind 41-24.

The Purple Knights (13-8, 9-2 ECC) opened up the second half with a barrage of three pointers, scoring 16 points in less than four minutes. From there, it was only a matter of time before UDC dropped their sixth consecutive game. Senior guard Darian David led Bridgeport with 24 points, including a whopping six of 11 from beyond the arc.

Sophomore forward Florent Pontens came through with a career-high 14 points to finish second in scoring for UDC. Senior D'Angelo Johnson led the Firebirds with seven rebounds, but couldn't buy a basket (1-9, many from outside.) Junior guard Ralph Watts added 10 points and four rebounds.

Head coach Jeff Ruland talks to his team

Coach Ruland (pictured above) was his usual stoic self; but you could sense his frustration with UDC's "open door policy" defending the rim, and continuous missed layups on the offensive end. Add boxing out to his team's laundry list of things to work on. Let's just hope they can field a healthy team for their road visit to Mercy College (2-16, 1-9) on Saturday, before returning home to host NYIT (13-7, 7-3) on Wednesday, February 6th at 5:00 PM. Who knows, maybe the UDC "faithful" will decide to show up for a change: Whatever happened to school spirit, even at a commuter college?