Sunday, February 16, 2014

Women's Basketball: UDC 71 Roberts Wesleyan 62

Teara Shaw (#10) led the Firebirds with 4 assists

From our friends at UDC Athletics...

Firebirds Push Past Roberts Wesleyan in ECC Slugfest

In a game marred by 38 fouls and 31 turnovers, the University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team avenged an earlier loss to East Coast Conference foe Roberts Wesleyan by gutting out a 71-61 victory Sunday afternoon in front of a spirited Hall of Fame Day crowd at UDC Gym.

With the win, the Firebirds remain tied with LIU Post for 1st place in the ECC standings with a league record of 14-2 and improved to 18-4 overall this season. UDC has now beaten every team in the conference at least once this season, and the Firebirds have won 10 of their last 11 games including the last four. The Redhawks fell to 11-11 overall and 7-9 in league play.

Denikka Brent led UDC with 14 points & 7 rebounds

Junior forward Denikka Brent (Mechanical Engineering – Chesapeake, VA/Booker T. Washington HS) led the Firebird effort with team-highs of 14 points, seven rebounds two steals and two blocks. Team leading scorer, junior transfer guard Telisha Turner (Criminal Justice – Wilmington, DE/Harcum) struggled to 2-of-8 shooting from the field, but her two makes were from long range and she connected on 5-of-6 from the free-throw line to finish with 11 points along with three assists.

Milena Bubnjevic (#5) scored 10 points off the bench

Once again, the Firebirds' depth played a significant role in today's game as UDC's bench out-scored RWC's, 31-5. Senior center Milena Bubnjevic (Criminal Justice – Leskovac, Serbia/Longwood) led all UDC reserves with 10 points, including a crucial and-one layup with under two minutes to go after the Redhawks had closed within two. Sophomore Tajruba Baldwin-Kollore (Public Health – Newport News, VA/Denbigh HS) also had eight points off the bench.

Taj Baldwin-Kollore (#22) had another great game off the bench

While UDC got much of its scoring on the perimeter this afternoon, Roberts Wesleyan used its size to out-score the Firebirds 30-20 in the paint. The same three Redhawk forwards that combined for 54 points and 34 rebounds in a 78-74 RWC victory in Rochester back on January 10th again tormented the Firebirds inside today. Chelsea Sanders posted a game-high 23 points and seven rebounds, the 6-foot-3 Samantha Courtney hauled in a game-high 12 rebounds to go with 14 points, and Marissa Sell added 13 points and six rebounds.

Roberts Wesleyan actually out-shot UDC 45-percent to 41-percent from the field and had a 38-32 rebounding advantage, but the Firebirds feasted at the free-throw line, making 23-of-32 (72-percent) compared to just 6-of-13 (46-percent) by the Redhawks. UDC also made twice as many three-pointers (6-3), committed five less turnovers (18-13) and, on defense, blocked three RWC shots.

Tiara Goode (#14) grabbed three key offensive boards in 1st half

Junior ShaKena Williams (Accounting – Washington, DC/Frederick CC) was one of five different Firebirds to score in the first five minutes of play, and later, her three-pointer at the 13:35 mark put UDC up 18-8 and forced a Roberts Wesleyan timeout. The Redhawks fought back over the next seven minutes, out-scoring UDC 10-5 to close the gap to five, but the Firebirds answered with an 8-1 run, culminating in a Bubnjevic three-pointer to give UDC its largest lead of the half, 31-19. The Firebirds would ultimately take a 39-30 lead into halftime.

RWC opened the second half on a 4-0 run to again close within five, but Turner, after sitting out most of the first half with two quick fouls, connected on her first two field goal attempts of the game – both three-pointers, and the Firebirds were quickly back up by 11, 45-34.

Telisha Turner (#1) finished with 11 points

UDC still led by 11 as the game neared the 13-minute mark, but Jenna Johnson knocked down what would be the only three-pointer of the 2nd half for the Redhawks right at the 13-minute mark to start a 7-0 run. With Sanders' layup at the 10:37 mark, Roberts Wesleyan closed within four, 49-45.

After the Firebirds converted only 2-of-4 free-throws in two trips to the free-throw line, the Redhawks clawed within two (51-49) courtesy of consecutive jumpers by Sanders and Courtney. This was the first of three times RWC pulled within two in the second half, and each time, the Firebirds had answer. The first time, it was Brent with a nice lay-up finish off of a beautiful feed inside by Turner at the 7:27 mark. The next time it was a clutch three-pointer at the 6:40 mark by senior reserve guard Julissa Anderson (Criminal Justice – Greensboro, NC/Southeast Guilford HS) to give UDC a 56-51 lead. Finally, with the score 59-57 with 2:20 to play, senior point guard Teara Shaw (Health Education – Bronx, NY/Indian River State) found Bubnjevic for one of her team-high four assists, as Bubnjevic made an and-one layup and converted the free-throw for a three-point play, making it 62-57 with 1:48 remaining.

Hall of Fame inductees Earnest Green and Valerie Curtis (r)

After the conventional three-point play by Bubnjevic, the Firebirds would go on to make 9-of-10 free-throws down the stretch as they won comfortably by a 10-point margin.

Next up is a crucial ECC game on the road at 3rd place Queens (12-4) on Wednesday, February 19th at 5 p.m. The Firebirds beat the Knights at home, 69-53 back on January 18th, and will need to complete the season sweep to either keep pace with or surpass LIU Post for the top spot in the league standings.

Click here for today's box score.