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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Depleted Firebirds Wilt Down the Stretch in 76-71 Loss at Mercy

February 2, 2013

DOBBS FERRY, NY – The Firebirds led by as many as six at the mid-point of the second half but crumbled down the stretch as they fell, 76-71 to East Coast Conference foe Mercy on Saturday afternoon.
With just two substitutes at his disposal, head coach Jeff Ruland's District of Columbia squad had three starters play all 40 minutes and one starter, senior guard Keith Brooks (Journalism – Queens, NY/Monsignor McClancy), played 31 minutes despite not being 100-percent. The loss drops the Firebirds to 2-17 overall (1-10 ECC) while Mercy improved to 3-16 overall and 2-9 in the league.
Junior transfer guards Michael Terry (Criminal Justice – Philadelphia, PA/Boston U) and Quasim Jones (Business Management – Philadelphia, PA/Johnson CC) led the Firebird attack with 20 and 19 points, respectively. Jones also handed out three assists while Terry grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Junior transfer swing player Ralph Watts (Sociology – Peekskill, NY/UAlbany) also recorded 12 points, six rebounds and a team-high four assists, and Brooks pitched in with 10 points and three rebounds.
Joseph Pope led all scorers with 21 points on 9-of-19 from the field (3-of-6 from long-range) to go along with seven rebounds. Kirk Bailey was also a huge force for the Mavericks inside with a double-double of 18 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
Bailey made his first two shots of the game for the game's first four points and Chaz Morrish knocked down a three-pointer to cap a 9-2 Mercy run to begin play. Terry then started and put the finishing touches on an 8-2 Firebirds surge with two three-pointers, the second of which pulled District of Columbia within one, 11-10. Twice Mercy extended its lead to five, but the Firebirds would force three ties at 17, 20 and 22 with three-pointers by Brooks and Jones and a layup by sophomore forward Florent Pontens (Business Management – Tarbes, France/Cheshire Academy). After the Mavericks regained the lead with a three-pointer by Remi Mignotti at the 7:46 mark, District of Columbia answered with back-to-back two-point baskets to take its first lead of the game, 26-25 with 6:20 to play before halftime. A tie and six more lead-changes would ensue before Mercy wounded up taking a narrow, 38-36 lead into the intermission.
Brooks buried a three-pointer for the first points of the second half, putting the Firebirds in front 39-38 nearly a minute into play when the action resumed. District of Columbia out-scored their hosts 8-2 in the opening two minutes to take a 44-40 advantage following Brooks' second trey of the half. Though the Firebirds would surrender the next four points and allow Mercy to tie the game once more at 44-all, District of Columbia never relinquished the lead for a period of 11:19, going up by as many as six points (61-55) after an and-one layup by Terry at the 10:21 mark.
But that is precisely when Mercy got a move on, beginning with a three-pointer by Morrish just before the 10-minute mark. That three-pointer ignited an 18-3 Maverick run that catapulted the hosts into a 73-64 advantage with just under five minutes to play. With little left in the tanks, the Firebirds tried to fight their way back into the game, pulling within five after a pair of free-throws by Jones at the 1:27 mark, but that was the last of the scoring on the day for either team.
After the two teams were dead even at 16 in points in the paint in the first half, the Firebirds were outscored 26-12 in the second half. District of Columbia had also shot slightly better in the first half (46-percent to 44-percent) but Mercy shot a blistering 59-percent (17-of-29) from the field in the second half compared to the Firebirds' 44-percent (11-of-25) shooting. The Mavericks also shot better from three-point range for the game (10-of-22 to 10-of-27), making up for the fact that they did not make a single free-throw (they were 0-for-3 for the entire day). District of Columbia, which was 0-for-6 from the stripe in the first half, began to make amends by making 9-of-11 in the second half, but it was too little too late. The Mavericks also had the edge in the assist/turnover ratio (17/12 to 11/11).

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