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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Columbia’s Offense Stalls in Second Half; Firebirds Fall 51-46 at Dowling

January 16, 2013

District of 

OAKDALE, NY – After taking a 31-24 halftime lead on league-leading Dowling, the University of the District of Columbia women's basketball shot just 24-percent and got out-scored 27-15 in the second frame en-route to its fifth straight loss, 51-46 in East Coast Conference play Wednesday night.
The loss drops the Firebirds to 6-10 overall and 1-5 in league play while Dowling, who came into the day receiving votes for the WBCA Top-25 poll, improved to 12-2 overall and 6-0 in the ECC.
Sophomore guard Denikka Brent (Mechanical Engineering – Chesapeake, VA/Booker T. Washington HS) notched her second straight double-figure scoring game as she led District of Columbia with 15 points to go with five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Junior point guardTeara Shaw (Health Education – Bronx, NY/John F. Kennedy HS) added 11 points and six rebounds.
Dowling was paced by their senior guard Connie Simmons, who registered 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field (2-of-2 from long-range) and 3-of-4 at the stripe. The Golden Lions' leading scorer Danielle Wilson was held three points under her season scoring average, but she certainly made her impact felt with 14 points and a game-high 16 rebounds (eight offensive).
The Firebirds started the game 2-for-18 from the field in the first 9:30 as Dowling grabbed early leads of 8-0, 13-2 and 18-7. Senior guard Janelle Junior (Administration of Justice – Riverside, CA/La Sierra HS) then broke a nearly seven-minute drought where the Firebirds went without a field goal when she buried a three-pointer to ignite her team. District of Columbia went on to out-score Dowling 24-6 in the final eight-and-a-half minutes, including a 16-0 blitz in the final 4:50. The Firebirds, who took just four three-point attempts in the opening half and made two of them, shot 34-percent from the field, committed just six turnovers, and they managed to score 31 first half points against the No. 1 scoring defense in the nation to take a seven-point cushion at intermission.
When play resumed, Dowling outscored the Firebirds 12-2 in the first eight minutes of the closing frame and regained the lead, 36-33. District of Columbia shot a dreadful 1-for-10 from the field and turned the ball over nine times in that stretch before a three-pointer by Brent re-ignited the Firebirds and forced a 36-all tie at the 11:52 mark. Twice more, District of Columbia would force ties, including a 41-41 score following a jumper by Brent at the 6:35 mark. But a pair of free-throws by Wilson put Dowling in the lead to stay. Following those free-throws, the Firebirds turned the ball over for the 10th time of the half, and it resulted in a three-pointer at the other end by Julia Koppl.
Still trailing by five as the game approached the one-minute mark, Shaw drove to the basket and converted an acrobatic layup around two Golden Lions defenders to bring the Firebirds within three, 49-46. On the ensuing Dowling possession, Junior came up with a big steal for District of Columbia with 36 seconds remaining. The Firebirds seemed confused on the offensive end, letting 18 seconds run off before head coach Lester Butler called a timeout. Out of the timeout, Brent misfired on an off-balanced jumper from the elbow, and Christine Verelle corralled the defensive rebound with just nine seconds showing on the clock. Verelle was immediately fouled, and she sank both her free-throws. The Firebirds missed a three-pointer at the other end as time expired as Dowling escaped with the 51-46 victory to stay unbeaten in league play.
After turning the ball over just six times in the first half, the Firebirds shot themselves in the foot with 14 turnovers in the second half, which the Golden Lions then turned into 12 points. Also, the Firebirds struggled to get to the free-throw line in the second half, taking just four attempts and making just one while the Golden Lions made 10-of-16.
District of Columbia did a tremendous job on the boards, out-rebounding the league's best and 17th ranked rebounding team in the nation, 39-38 for the game. Dowling held a slight field goal shooting edge (31-percent to 30-percent), but the Firebirds were more efficient from three-point range (40-percent to 31-percent).
Next up for the Firebirds is their annual Youth Day game at home vs. ECC foe Molloy College. Tip-off is at 3 p.m.

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