Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Men's Basketball: Slippery Rock 78 UDC 74 (OT)

Erin Senegal (#22) led UDC with 18 points

From our friends at UDC Athletics...

Firebirds Ousted in Overtime Again by Slippery Rock, 78-74

The first win of the season continues to elude the University of the District of Columbia men's basketball team as the Firebirds fell to 0-5 on the season with a 78-74 overtime loss to Slippery Rock University in their season home opener Tuesday night.

This marks the 3rd consecutive four-point loss and the 2nd consecutive overtime loss for 3rd year head coach Mike Riley's Firebirds, who have lost their last 10 outings dating back to last season. The Rock evened their record at 3-3 with tonight's win.

Jayone Troutman (#23) added 12 points & 7 rebounds

UDC erased a six-point deficit (67-61) with 2:34 remaining in regulation to force overtime, but five turnovers in the extra session was the Firebirds' undoing as SRU scored six points off of those turnovers and made 5-of-6 free-throws down the stretch to slip away with the narrow victory.

Joseph Nickerson (#15) racked up 16 points, 9 boards, 5 steals & 3 blocks

The Firebirds were led by four starters in double-figures scoring, including senior guard Erin Senegal's team-high 18 points. Senegal connected on his first three shots of the game - all from behind-the-arc - but missed his final seven shots from the field as he shot 0-for-4 in the 2nd half. He did however make 9-of-11 at the free-throw line on the night to add to his total. His backcourt mate Kasim Chandler struggled offensively with 11 points on 2-of-10 FG shooting (7-of-9 FT) and four turnovers to go with three assists.

Geran Pope (#34) chipped in 8 points & 9 rebounds

Forwards Joseph Nickerson and Jayone Troutman both came alive in the 2nd half to spark UDC and help the Firebirds force overtime. Nickerson finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, five assists, five steals (all in the 2nd half) and three blocks, and Troutman added 12 points (10 in the 2nd half), seven rebounds and two blocks.

Virgil Fleming (#24) scored 9 points (with 4 rebounds) off the bench

Guard Malcolm Richardson powered The Rock with a game-high 26 points on 9-of-15 FG shooting (3-of-5 from long range) while also registering six rebounds and three assists. Center Cornelius Brown posted a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds as he shot 6-of-11 from the floor and added two steals. Guard Jamal Gatali also pitched in with 13 points, two blocks and two steals.

Firebirds' Head Coach Mike Riley

Both teams turned the ball over 16 times, but SRU capitalized with 21 points off of turnovers compared to UDC's 14. The Rock also had a 45-39 rebounding advantage, including a 16-10 edge on the offensive boards which led to a 12-4 disparity in 2nd chance points. The visitors also doubled-up their hosts 18-9 in bench points.

Seven early Senegal points on two three-pointers and a free-throw helped UDC to a 9-3 lead three-and-a-half minutes in. The Firebirds still led 18-12 nearing the 11-minute mark of the 1st half when Gatali kick-started a 9-4 run by The Rock with a three-pointer. Less than three minutes later, Brown's layup cut the UDC lead to one, 22-21. A Virgil Fleming (nine points) layup and a 1-of-2 trip at the line by Chandler pushed the Firebirds' lead back to four, 25-21 near the seven-minute mark, but Slippery Rock answered with a 6-0 run to take its first lead of the game, 26-25. The Rock would take a narrow, 34-33 lead into halftime.

Slippery Rock opened the 2nd half on a 5-0 run to extend its lead to six, 39-33 with less than a minute played since the break. Twice more The Rock built up six-point leads (43-37 and 47-41), but UDC continued to stay within striking distance, even forcing two ties at 52 (9:42) and 54 (7:51). A three-pointer by Richardson at the 5:42 mark gave SRU its largest lead of the night, 63-56, and The Rock still led by six (67-61) with 2:34 remaining in regulation.

Chandler's first bucket of the day - a layup with 2:27 to play - cut the deficit to four, and later he sank a pair of free-throws with 1:00 showing on the clock to pull UDC within two, 67-65. On the ensuing SRU possession, Nickerson came up with a steal and tossed an outlet pass to a streaking Erin Senegal, who was fouled on his way to the hoop. Senegal made both free-throws to force a tie, 67-all. Juwan Strothers got a decent look at a three-pointer from the corner in the final seconds of regulation, but his shot rimmed out and Nickerson corralled the rebound.

In the overtime period, Richardson scored on an easy layup following the Firebirds' 2nd turnover within the first minute of play. Chandler then came up with a steal of his own and put in a layup at the other end to force a 69-69 tie at the 2:48 mark, but following another UDC turnover, Gatali buried a big-time three-pointer to put Slippery Rock ahead for good at the 1:47 mark, 72-69. Again, the Firebirds turned the ball over, as Strothers picked Chandler's pocket and drew a foul by Nickerson. Strothers made 1-of-2 at the line to make it a two-possession game, 73-69 with 1:19 left.

Fleming's three-pointer with 19 seconds brought UDC within one, 75-74, but Richardson made 3-of-4 free-throws during two trips to the foul line to ice the win.

The Firebirds will host a rematch against Chestnut Hill on Saturday, November 28th at 6 PM. They will look to avenge a 93-86 season-opening defeat to the Griffins at Philadelphia University back on November 14th.

Click here for tonight's box score.