Thursday, February 12, 2015

Women's Basketball: UDC 66 Queens (NY) 61

Denikka Brent (#11) led all scorers with 17 points

From our friends at UDC Athletics...

Firebirds Hit 20-Win Mark with 9th Straight Victory vs. Queens

The University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team defeated Queens College, 66-61 in a pivotal East Coast Conference matchup that pit two regionally ranked opponents Wednesday night in the nation's capital.

The Firebirds (No. 4 East Region) improved to 20-3 overall (13-2 ECC) as they won their 9th straight game and avenged a 77-71 loss at Queens on January 10th to even the season series. The win also ensures UDC keeps sole possession of 1st place in the ECC standings as the Firebirds own a two-game lead on four schools - Queens, NYIT, LIU Post, Roberts Wesleyan - all with four league losses. Queens, which entered the week ranked No. 8 in the East Region poll, has now lost two straight games and fell to 16-6 (11-4 ECC) with tonight's loss.

Great defense by junior Iman Scott (#24)

With tonight's 20th win of the season, this marks UDC's 5th 20-win season under head coach Lester Butler, Jr, and the 3rd in the last four years.

Telisha Turner (#1) scored 9 points off the bench

Senior forward Denikka Brent (Mechanical Engineering - Chesapeake, VA/Booker T. Washington HS), fresh off her D2 "Gem of the Week" national honor from Bennett Rank, was the driving force behind UDC's victory in the Firebirds' first game back at the UDC Sports Complex since January 22nd. Just as she did during UDC's stretch of five consecutive road wins, Brent packed the stat sheet tonight with game-highs of 17 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots.

Shantrel Oliver led UDC with 4 assists & 3 steals

Junior point guard Shantrel Oliver (Criminal Justice - Columbia, MD/River Hill HS) was also key in the Firebird win as she contributed 12 points, including 5-of-6 free-throw shooting in the final 36 seconds of regulation to seal the victory - UDC's 7th straight at home.

Queens was led by the Rowland sisters - Madison and MacKenzie - who combined for 27 points and 16 rebounds. Madison, who missed the Knights' last game at Mercy on Saturday due to injury, returned to the lineup tonight and led the team with 15 points and 11 rebounds. MacKenzie, who made 5-of-11 from the field but struggled to 2-of-9 from the free-throw line, registered 12 points to go with five rebounds.

The Knights narrowly out-shot UDC from the field (42-percent to 40-percent) and from three-point range (33-percent to 30-percent), and were much more efficient with 15 assists to 11 turnovers compared to UDC's seven assists and 18 turnovers. The Firebirds, however, were the much-better rebounding team (48-34) and shot considerably better at the free-throw line (16-of-24 compared to 9-of-20).

UDC raced out to an early 10-2 lead after a pair of free-throws by senior guard ShaKena Williams (Accounting - Washington, DC/Frederick CC), and later took a 20-10 advantage around the 13-minute mark after a jumper by junior transfer forward Arielle Ward (Psychology - Springfield, MA/La Salle). Later still, two three-pointers by senior guard Telisha Turner (Criminal Justice - Wilmington, DE/Harcum) aided UDC during an 8-1 run that extended the Firebirds' lead to 28-17 at the 7:36 mark.

The Firebirds controlled a 10-point advantage after Brent converted an and-one layup into a three-point play to make it, 33-23 with 3:47 before halftime, but Queens would close out the half on a 10-1 run that saw Joya McFarland (nine points) score the final five points before the break and pull the Knights within one, 34-33.

With momentum on its side to open the second half, Queens took their first, and what proved to be their only, lead of the night, 35-34 on a jump shot by Kristen Korzevinksi a little over a minute into the action once play had resumed. Brent gave the Firebirds the lead back with a layup nearly two minutes later, followed by MacKenzie Rowland making only 1-of-2 at the free-throw line to force the game's only tie, 36-all at the 16:44 mark. A three-pointer by Oliver put UDC in front for good at the 14:45 mark.

Although UDC never trailed again, it never led by more than seven points the remainder of the game. The Knights pulled within one, 56-55 at the 3:20 mark after a 1-of-2 trip at the free-throw line by Taylor Miller, but a Brent jump-shot followed by a three-pointer by junior guard Tajruba Baldwin-Kollore (Criminal Justice - Newport News, VA/Denbigh HS) gave UDC a six-point cushion, 61-55 with 2:10 to go.

Twice in the final two minutes, Queens cut the lead down to four, only to have Oliver sink a pair of free-throws in response to make it a six-point game. Oliver's 1-of-2 during her final trip at the line gave UDC its largest lead of the second half, 66-59, with eight seconds remaining. Madison Rowland would then make a layup at the buzzer to make the final score, 66-61.

Next up, the Firebirds host ECC foe Molloy on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.

Click here for last night's box score.