Thursday, January 7, 2016

Men's Basketball: Bridgeport 75 UDC 70

Kasim Chandler (#1) led all players with 19 points

From our friends at UDC Athletics...

Firebirds Outlasted by Bridgeport, 75-70 in Hotly Contested ECC Battle

In an East Coast Conference battle pitting three-time reigning league champion University of Bridgeport vs. a University of the District of Columbia program which had finished in the bottom half of the standings the past three seasons, the Firebirds proved they are a different team in 2015-16.

Although UDC's five-game win-streak came to an end and it suffered its first league loss of the season, the Firebirds did put the perennial power Purple Knights to the test in a 75-70 loss at the UDC Gym Wednesday night. The Firebirds fell to 6-7 overall and 4-1 in league play with the loss as Bridgeport improved to 6-6 (4-1 ECC.)

Geran Pope (#34) added 17 points & a game-high 21 rebounds

Senior forward and Washington DC native Geran Pope had a career night for the Firebirds with 17 points and 21 rebounds (12 offensive, nine defensive). His 21 rebounds is an ECC season-high and was just one shy of Earl Jones' school-record 22 vs. Southeastern University on January 14, 1981.

Joseph Nickerson (#15) scored 11 points off the bench

Meanwhile, junior transfer guard Kasim Chandler led all scorers with 19 points while also adding a game-high three steals, and fellow junior transfers Martin Campbell and Joseph Nickerson came off the bench to score 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Martin Campbell (#20) scored 12 points

The Firebirds, playing their first game since December 19th, shot their lowest field goal (37%) and free-throw (64%) percentages of the season, but managed to stay in the game by minimizing turnovers (14) and winning the battle on the boards, 47-39.

Jayone Troutman (#23) added 10 boards & 2 dimes

Bridgeport, on the other hand, shot 43-percent from the field and 35-percent from long range, as the Purple Knights were led by four double-figure scorers, including team-highs of 18 points and six assists as well as eight rebounds by guard Devon Elliott. Forward Muhammed Ahmed added 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots, guard Ernest Rouse pitched in 12 points and five rebounds, and reserve Jesse Jones scored 12 in 20 minutes off the bench.

Devon Elliott (#1) led Bridgeport with 18 points & 6 assists

Bridgeport's Center, Eddie Asamoah was outstanding defensively with three steals and three blocked shots. The Purple Knights combined for nine blocked shots on the night.

Eddie Asamoah (#11) led Bridgeport with 3 blocks & 3 steals 

The game featured a quick tempo right from the start as five minutes into the game, Rouse broke the game's 3rd tie (7-7) with a three-pointer and sparked a 6-0 Purple Knights run to pull ahead, 13-7. UDC responded with a Campbell layup and Nickerson three-pointer to make it a one-point game (13-12), but a Jones three-pointer at 10:23 ignited Bridgeport to out-score the Firebirds 18-7 over the next six minutes as the Purple Knights took their largest lead of the night, 31-19. UDC would take the momentum back right before the half, however, as the Firebirds used a  12-3 surge over the final four minutes to pull within three, 34-31 as the horn sounded for intermission. Chandler and Pope aided the surge with six and four points, respectively.

Bridgeport's Muhammed Ahmed (#13) blocks one of his game-high 3 shots

The Firebirds came out the aggressors immediately in the 2nd half, out-scoring their guests 7-2 and briefly taking their first lead since the opening minutes of regulation, 38-36 on a jumper by senior guard Erin Senegal. A pivotal three-pointer by Elliot kick-started a 7-0 Bridgeport run that put the visitors back in front, 43-38 nearing the 14-minute mark. Later, three-pointers by Jones and Eric Rankin extended the Bridgeport lead to their largest of the 2nd half, 56-48 with 9:50 remaining.

Erin Senegal (#22) chipped in 6 points with 4 rebounds

Still trailing 59-53 at the 8:36 mark, the Firebirds embarked on an 11-4 comeback run that saw them close within one, 65-64 on a Nickerson acrobatic layup at the 2:13 mark. Elliott would convert a layup at the other end to push the Bridgeport lead back to three, and on the ensuing UDC possession, Nickerson could only make 1-of-2 at the free-throw line to make it, 67-65.

Sophomore Forward Thomas Robinson (#14)

On the next Bridgeport possession, Ahmed made a layup off of an assist by Jones to put the Purple Knights up 69-65, and UDC could not convert on the other end as junior transfer guard Virgil Fleming missed his running jumper in the paint and Nickerson missed the put-back.

Junior Virgil Fleming (#24) led UDC with 3 assists

Bridgeport, which shot only 68-percent at the foul line for the night, made 4-of-4 in the final 30 seconds to ice the win as the Purple Knights won by a five-point margin.

Head Coach Mike Riley rallies the troops

UDC will next visit league foe Dowling on Saturday, January 9th at 3 PM.

Click here for last night's box score.