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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Firebirds’ Second Half Burst Not Enough in 67-61 Loss at Roberts Wesleyan

January 26, 2013

Firebirds’ Second Half Burst Not Enough in 67-61 Loss at Roberts Wesleyan

ROCHESTER, NY – The Firebirds overcame a 13-point second half deficit with a 14-1 flurry to tie the score halfway through the final period and even held a two-point lead with just over a minute to go, but the host Roberts Wesleyan Redhawks made 8-of-8 from the foul line down the stretch to pull away with a 67-61 victory Saturday afternoon in East Coast Conference action at Voller Athletic Center.
The Firebirds (7-12, 2-7 ECC) have now lost seven of their last eight games including their last two. Roberts Wesleyan, meanwhile, avenged a 59-56 loss to the Firebirds back on December 15th and snapped a four-game losing streak in the process. The Redhawks, first-year members of the ECC, are now 9-8 overall and 4-6 in league play.
Backcourt mates, junior Julissa Anderson (Criminal Justice – Greensboro, NC/Southeast Guilford HS) and sophomore Denikka Brent (Mechanical Engineering – Chesapeake, VA/Booker T. Washington HS) led the Firebirds offensively with 15 and 12 points, respectively. Brent also added a team-high eight rebounds.
Ashley Cianfriglia, who took all 11 of her shot attempts from behind-the-arc, knocked down six attempts and went 2-for-2 from the foul line to finish with a game-high 20 points for the Redhawks. Meanwhile, Marrisa Sell (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Marissa Bunce (12 points, eight rebounds, five assists) gave Roberts Wesleyan an inside presence.
The Firebirds had a very slow start that saw them start the game shooting 0-for-5 and committing five turnovers within the first five minutes of play and falling behind 11-0. Junior shooting guardSnezana Blagojevic (Business Management – Kragujevac, Serbia/Towson Catholic HS) knocked down a three-pointer to finally put District of Columbia on the board at the 14:27 mark. The Firebirds pulled within six (15-9) on a layup by Brent at the 11:21 mark, but the Redhawks countered with a 12-3 run to take their largest lead of the afternoon, 27-12 with 7:34 left in the opening period. Right back came District of Columbia with a 9-0 surge to again cut the lead to six, but Roberts Wesleyan outscored the Firebirds 7-4 to close out the half and took a 34-25 lead into halftime.
The Redhawks outscored the Firebirds 10-6 in the opening 4:35 and opened up a 13-point lead (44-31) when suddenly the Firebirds went on the attack. Anderson knocked down a three-pointer just past the 15-minute mark and went on to score eight points during a frenetic, 14-1 Firebirds surge that took all of 3:29 and forced a 45-all tie with just under 12 minutes to play.
Consecutive layups by RWC helped the hosts regain a four-point lead, but District of Columbia responded with a conventional three-point play by junior point guard Teara Shaw (Health Education – Bronx, NY/John F. Kennedy HS) and a jumper by Brent to take its first lead of the game, 50-49 with a little over eight minutes remaining. Just 23 seconds later, Bunce made a three-pointer to give the Redhawks back the lead, 52-50 and spark what amounted to an 8-2 Roberts Wesleyan surge culminating in another three-pointer by Cianfriglia to make the score 57-52 with 4:11 showing on the clock.
Still, District of Columbia was not done yet. The Firebirds mounted a 9-2 run beginning with another and-one layup by Shaw and culminating in a layup by junior forward Robin Keke (Biology – Bowie, MD/Bowie HS) to put the visitors in front one final time, 61-59 with just 1:20 remaining in regulation.
Following Keke's layup, a foul was charged to District of Columbia, sending Carneisha Henry to the line at the 1:03 mark. She made both to force the game's fourth tie, 61-all. The next Firebirds possession, District of Columbia turned the ball over by virtue of an offensive foul and sent Bunce to the line to shoot two. She too, made a pair, and the Redhawks led 63-61 with 33 seconds left. The Firebirds then tried to go inside to Keke, but she could not convert her layup as Sell corralled the rebound, and the Redhawks ran off seven seconds of clock before Julissa Anderson could foul Cianfriglia. The sharp-shooting Cianfriglia then made both of her free-throws to make it a two-possession game, 65-61 with only 14 ticks left on the clock. District of Columbia would only turn the ball over in their final possession, and Bunce made another pair of free-throws with three seconds left to put the game on ice.
In the end, the Firebirds' slow start came back to haunt them as they shot just 29-percent (9-of-31) from the field in the first half but actually slightly better (38.1-percent to 37.5-percent) for the game. They also shot better from three-point range (43-percent to 40-percent), and they won the rebounding battle, 38-34 which led to a 24-18 advantage in points in the paint. However, Roberts Wesleyan was the more efficient team in the assist-to-turnover ratio (20/17 to 11/18) and scored more points off turnovers (21-18). The Redhawks also made out much better at the free-throw line (17-of-24, 71-percent; to 7-of-11, 64-percent).

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