Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Women's Basketball: UDC 76 Dowling 68

Teara Shaw led UDC with 15 points, six assists & four steals

From our friends at UDC Athletics...

Shaw’s Clutch Free-Throw Shooting Staves Off Golden Lions’ Late Surge; Firebirds Beat Dowling on Senior Night, 76-68

Senior point guard Teara Shaw made 11-of-12 free-throws in the final two minutes of the game to neutralize a Golden Lions late threat, as the team's veteran leader finished with a season-high 15 points and game-high six assists to guide the Firebirds to a 76-68 victory over Dowling in a pivotal East Coast Conference win on Wednesday night in the nation's capital.

The Firebirds (19-6, 15-4 ECC), still with one more regular season game remaining, finished a perfect 10-0 at home vs. ECC opponents this season with tonight's win, which was the 150th career win for head coach Lester Butler, Jr. The win also helped UDC remain tied with Queens for 2nd place in the conference standings.

Coach Jay gets career win #150

Saturday, Queens and UDC will jockey for the ECC Tournament No. 2 seed as Queens hosts the league regular season champion, LIU Post, and UDC visits Bridgeport. The Firebirds need both a win in their own game and a Queens loss on Saturday to earn the No. 2 seed, which is awarded a first-round bye and the right to host an ECC Tournament Semifinal game. LIU Post locked up the top seed with a 64-57 overtime win vs. Molloy tonight.

Tiara Goode scored 10 points with 4 steals in just 15 minutes

Along with Shaw's clutch free-throw shooting, pressure defense was key to the Firebirds' victory tonight as they forced 26 Dowling turnovers and converted them into 32 points. Meanwhile, UDC did a much better job taking care of the basketball, combining for 17 assists and just 14 turnovers as a team. The Lions actually out-shot UDC, 42-percent to 39-percent and held a 43-33 rebounding advantage, but their turnover-plagued offense only managed five less shot attempts (64-59) and the same number of made field goals (25) and three-point field goals (7) as the Firebirds. Therefore, it came down to free-throws, where UDC made 19-of-22 (86-percent) and Dowling only 11-of-15 (73-percent).

I'm not the only one who's gonna miss Teara Shaw (#10)

Dowling raced out to early leads of 7-2, 9-4 and 11-6, but a three-pointer by senior guard Julissa Anderson (Criminal Justice – Greensboro, NC/Southeast Guilford HS), followed by five consecutive points by sophomore Tiara Goode (Administration of Justice – Brentwood, NY/Brentwood HS) jump-started a 16-2 Firebirds surge which catapulted UDC in front, 22-13 near the 10-minute mark. The Lions cut the deficit to four twice in the final two minutes of the first half, but the Firebirds ended the half on a 5-0 run, with Goode converting a layup for the final points of the half. Goode led all first half scorers with 10 points as UDC led 41-32 at intermission.

Milena Bubnjevic (#5) led UDC with 9 rebounds

Senior sharp-shooter Snezana Blagojevic (Business Management – Kragujevac, Serbia/Shepherd) opened the second half scoring with a three-point bomb from the corner, helping UDC open the half on a 5-0 run to increase its lead to 14, 46-32. The Firebirds lead swelled at 17 (56-39) just past the 10-minute mark and they remained comfortably ahead, 60-44 with 6:39 to play when suddenly the Golden Lions came roaring back. Led by the interior play of forward Julia Koppl (game-high 18 points and 19 rebounds) and the outside shooting of guard Kamile Ejerta (17 points, 4-of-7 from three-point range), Dowling went on a 14-4 run which cut the deficit to just six, 64-58 with 1:24 remaining in regulation. Fortunately for the Firebirds, the clock was their ally at that point as the Golden Lions had to preserve time by fouling. Shaw, a 64-percent free-throw shooter for the season coming into the night, made Dowling pay by sinking 11-of-12 from the stripe down the stretch for UDC. Even when Ejerta's fourth and final three-pointer of the game brought the Golden Lions within four with 44 seconds left, Shaw calmly sank four free-throws in a row on two separate trips to seal the victory. UDC went on to win by an eight-point margin, 76-68.

Telisha Turner (#1) had a quiet, but productive night

The Firebirds, who have swept five different ECC opponents this year, will look to complete the season sweep of Bridgeport on Saturday, March 1st at 1 p.m. UDC won the first meeting, 87-59 at home on February 10th.

So much for pre-game jitters

Click here for today's box score.