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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Firebirds Late Season Run Continues With Exciting, 86-84 Comeback Win Over Dowling

February 16, 2013

Firebirds Late Season Run Continues With Exciting, 86-84 Comeback Win Over Dowling

WASHINGTON, DC – The Firebirds have now won three of their last four games as they erased an 84-80 deficit with a 6-0 run in the final 41 seconds of regulation to beat Dowling, 86-84 in the East Coast Conference game of the week Saturday afternoon at UDC Gym.
District of Columbia, which earned its first back-to-back wins of the season, improved to 4-11 in league play and 5-18 overall. The Firebirds have also won their last three consecutive home games and moved to .500 at UDC Gym this season with a record of 5-5. They sit just two games behind Dowling (6-8 ECC; 9-13 overall) for 6th place in the league standings with three games left to play.

Junior transfer guards Ralph Watts (Sociology – Peekskill, NY/UAlbany) and Michael Terry (Criminal Justice – Philadelphia, PA/Boston U) each scored 19 points and combined for 16 rebounds to lead the Firebirds offensively. Also, junior transfer point guard Quasim Jones (Business Management – Philadelphia, PA/Johnson CC) added 14 points, five assists and four rebounds, D'Angelo Johnson(Mass Media – Washington, DC/Virginia St.) pitched in 13 points, and senior guard Brandon Ennis(Mass Media – Ontario, Canada/Southern Connecticut St.) registered a season-high 10 points.
Dowling featured two 20+ scorers in reserve guard Darien Davis (21 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three steals) and starting forward Evan Maxwell (20 points, seven rebounds). Ronald Baker and Josh Malone also added 13 points apiece.
The Firebirds opened the game on a 10-3 run culminating in a Terry three-pointer near the 15-minute mark. They would open up an 11-point advantage (20-9) after a pair of free-throws by Terry with 12:27 left in the first half, but a 16-5 Dowling surge forced a 25-all tie with just under nine minutes to play. The Golden Lions took only their 2nd lead of the first half, 31-30 with a three-pointer by Davis at the 7:42 mark, but a pair of free-throws by Ennis put the Firebirds back in the lead to stay for the remainder of the first half. In fact, the Ennis free-throws jump-started a 10-0 Firebirds surge which put District of Columbia in front, 40-31 with just over five minutes left to play in the half. Dowling went on to score 12 of the final 19 points of the half though as the Firebirds settled for a 47-43 halftime lead.
When play resumed, the Golden Lions out-scored the Firebirds 8-4 in the first 4:14 of the second half to force the 5th tie of the game, 51-all. Dowling would take its first lead of the closing period at the 14:30 mark after a layup by Davis. Four lead changes and three ties would ensue before the Golden Lions would break a 61-61 deadlock with a 5-0 run to go up 66-61 with just under 10 minutes to play. The Firebirds would then answer though with a 15-6 run which gave them a 76-72 lead at the 4:05 mark.
District of Columbia still led 80-76 after a three-pointer by Jones at the 1:45 mark, but an 8-0 run by Dowling, highlighted by five consecutive points from Davis, pushed the visitors ahead, 84-80 with just 41 seconds left in regulation. Jones got to the free-throw line and knocked down both with 33 seconds left to bring the Firebirds within two, 84-82. Then, following a steal by Watts on the defensive end, Watts gathered an offensive rebound off of a missed three-pointer by sophomoreFlorent Pontens (Business Management – Tarbes, France/Cheshire Academy), and converted an and-one layup to tie the score. He
then got his free-throw to roll in to complete the three-point play and put his team up, 85-84 with 25 ticks left.
Back on the defensive end, the Firebirds forced Davis to take too many steps in the paint resulting in a travelling violation and return of possession. The Golden Lions quickly fouled Terry after the inbounds pass, and Terry made the 2nd of his two free-throw attempts after missing the first to give the Firebirds an 86-84 lead with only nine seconds remaining.
On the ensuing Dowling possession, Davis tried to put up a running jump shot in the paint, but Pontens sent his shot right back with a potential game-saving block, and the Firebirds ran off the final seconds of the clock in jubilation.
Dowling actually out-shot District of Columbia 52-percent to 43-percent from the field and was much better from three-point range (53-percent to 33-percent). However, the Firebirds went to the free-throw line much more often and cashed in for 21-of-24 from the stripe compared to 9-of-14 by the Golden Lions. The rebounding battle was dead even at 36 boards apiece while Dowling had a slight, 44-42 edge in points in the paint and the Firebirds had a slight 18-15 edge in second-chance points. Where District of Columbia really separated itself though was with its assist-to-turnover ratio. The Firebirds had 16 assists to 12 turnovers while Dowling had 13 assists and 21 turnovers.
Next up for District of Columbia is a road game at ECC foe Queens College on Wednesday, February 20th at 7 p.m. The Firebirds will look to even the season series with the Knights and win their first road game of the season.

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