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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Late Second Half Surge Propels Firebirds Over LIU Post, 83-79

February 13, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – A late, 16-0 power surge catapulted the Firebirds men's basketball team from a 10-point deficit into a six-point lead, and the University of the District of Columbia held on for its second win in the last three games with a thrilling, 83-79 victory over the defending East Coast Conference champions, LIU Post on Wednesday night.
Junior transfer guard Ralph Watts (Sociology – Peekskill, NY/UAlbany) made the game-tying jumper at the 3:21 mark and the go-ahead three-pointer to make it 77-74 with 2:24 left to play in regulation. He finished with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field (5-of-6 from long-range). Fellow junior transfer backcourt mate Michael Terry (Criminal Justice – Philadelphia, PA/Boston U) was also pivotal in the final 5:52, helping ignite the game-turning run with the first six of the 16 points. He would finish with 19 points, a team-high seven rebounds and five assists. Junior transfer point guard Quasim Jones (Business Management – Philadelphia, PA/Johnson CC) was also very effective with 17 points, five assists with zero turnovers, and five rebounds. This marked the 3rd time in the last four games that Jones has gone without a single turnover.
LIU Post, which had won three of its last four, fell to 15-7 overall and 10-4 in league play with tonight's loss. The Pioneers featured three scorers in double-figures: ECC pre-season player of the year, Tobin Carberry (16 points), reserve forward Emile Blackman (14 points) and starting forward Jonathan Kohler (11 points, five rebounds, four assists). Carberry's 16-point outing was two points below his ECC-best 18.0 average, and nine points less than he scored in the previous meeting between these two ECC foes (an 84-73 LIU Post win).
The first half featured a frenetic pace that saw seven ties and 15 lead-changes. District of Columbia had the largest lead of that opening period when a Terry three-pointer gave the hosts a 21-17 advantage at the 10:45 mark. Still, LIU Post was in control of a 33-30 lead after a pair of free-throws by Kohler at the 3:36 mark when the Firebirds closed out the half on a 9-3 march, highlighted by a pair of three-pointers from Watts and Jones, and District of Columbia took a 39-36 lead into halftime.
Sophomore forward Florent Pontens (Business Management – Tarbes, France/Cheshire Academy) scored the Firebirds' first four points of the second half and helped District of Columbia pad its lead to 43-38 with a little over a minute of action gone by. The Firebirds still led 47-43 after a fast-break dunk by Terry at the 16-minute mark, but the Pioneers stormed out to a 16-3 run that propelled them into a 59-50 lead with 11:14 still to play. Carberry, who scored 11 of his 16 in the second half, initially gave the Pioneers the lead, 48-47 with a three-pointer at the 15:01 mark, and LIU Post would stay in front for a little over nine minutes.
Following a Blackman layup at the 5:52 mark, the Pioneers had their largest lead of the night, 74-64, but on the ensuing Firebirds possession, Terry drove strong to the hoop for the layup and the harm. He went on to make his free-throw to complete the three-point play. Then, after Charles McCann missed a pair of free-throws for LIU Post at the other end, Terry came right back down and buried a three-pointer to make it 74-70 with just under five minutes to play. Later, a steal by Terry led to a made jump shot by Jones at the other end for the Firebirds, cutting the lead to two at the 4:09 mark. Then, following a Blackman misfire, Watts knocked down an elbow jumper to knot the score at 74-all with 3:21 left.
On the next LIU Post possession, Carberry had a decent look at a three-pointer which would have given the Pioneers back the lead. Instead, his shot rimmed out, and back the other way came the Firebirds with Pontens finding an open Watts in the corner for the go-ahead three-pointer at the 2:24 mark. Jones would later help pad that lead to six when he followed his own three-point miss with a layup, and then later made 1-of-2 from the stripe with 54 seconds showing on the clock.
Three offensive rebounds resulted in Billy Butler drawing a foul with 37 ticks left and going to the line to make a pair of free-throws which cut the lead to four, 80-76. The Pioneers then fouled Jones with 30 seconds remaining, and Jones missed the front end of a one-and-one. Just five seconds later, Kohler breathed some life back into LIU Post as he buried a three-pointer from the top of the key and made it a one-point game, 80-79.
The Pioneers then fouled Terry on the next Firebirds possession, and the junior Division I transfer calmly sank both shots to make it, 82-79 with 22 ticks left. Dillon Burns put up a shot for LIU Post with 11 seconds remaining that rimmed out, and District of Columbia senior Brandon Ennis (Mass Media – Ontario, Canada/Southern Connecticut State) secured the defensive rebound and was fouled quickly thereafter. Ennis missed his first free-throw, but scored his only point of the night by making his second, which, effectively, sealed the Firebirds win.
With the win, the Firebirds improved to 4-18 overall and 3-11 in the ECC. This also marks their first win over LIU Post since joining the conference last year.
District of Columbia, which has had all four of its wins this year come at home, will host ECC foe Dowling on Saturday at 3 p.m.

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