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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Firebirds Fight Their Way to Season’s Second Win; Defeat Mercy 83-66

December 14, 2013


WASHINGTON, DC – With a roster still void of two of its most explosive offensive threats, the University of the District of Columbia men's basketball team battled through to earn its second win of the season, 83-66 over East Coast Conference foe, Mercy on Saturday afternoon in the nation's capital.
Once again, junior transfer forward Lenjo Kilo (Biology – Silver Spring, MD/Seton Hill) carried the Firebirds (2-6, 1-2 ECC) with game-highs of 31 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots. This was his second straight game with over 30 points and over 15 rebounds, and his four blocks was a season-high. Freshman guard Reggie Sidbury (Social Work – Landover, MD/Charles Herbert Flowers HS) added 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and sophomore shooting guardOmar Abbas (Electrical Engineering – Alexandria, Egypt/Egyptian American HS) pitched in 12 points. Meanwhile, junior transfer guard Prince Ritson (Psychology – Greenbelt, MD/Bowie St.) had a great all-around effort with 11 points, a season-high nine rebounds, and a game-high five assists, and sophomore transfer forward Clenso Brannon III (Graphic Design – Washington, DC/College of Southern Maryland) contributed a season-high 13 boards as well.
Mercy (0-8, 0-2 ECC) was led by their two interior players, Olajide Keshinro and LeBrandon Smith, who scored 15 and 13 points, respectively, and combined for 15 rebounds.
Nate Stitchell (five points, five assists) capped an 8-0 Mavericks run to start the game in the opening three minutes of play as Mercy controlled the lead for much of the first half. UDC still trailed 22-14 after a jumper by Smith at the 10:29 mark, but the Firebirds came storming back with a 10-2 run to force the game's first tie. Ritson's free-throw to complete a conventional three-point play knotted the score at 24-all just past the 8-minute mark. Twelve seconds later, Kilo's jumper gave UDC its first lead of the game, 26-25, and the Firebirds would never trail again the rest of the way. They ended the half on a 9-3 run and took a 39-33 edge into intermission.
In the second half, the two teams traded baskets early on, with Mercy keeping it a five-point game after a pair of free-throws by Stitchell at the 17:31 mark. But a jumper by Sidbury sparked an 18-4 Firebirds surge, culminating in an and-one layup and three-point play by Abbas to give UDC a commanding, 62-43 lead with a little over 12 minutes left to play.
The Mavericks, in search of their first win of the season, did not go away though, as Keshinro's emphatic dunk at the 10:35 mark got a fired-up Mercy squad on a roll. The visitors cut a 19-point deficit to eight (64-56) with a lightning-fast 11-0 rally. Consecutive jumpers by freshman guardKevin Campbell (Biology – Washington, DC/Woodrow Wilson HS) and a three-point play by Kilo pushed the Firebird lead back up to 13 with 6:40 remaining, but the Mavericks answered with a 7-1 run to creep within seven (70-63) with 4:36 showing on the clock.
At that point, Kilo took matters into his own hands, making three consecutive two-point baskets and later converting 1-of-2 at the free-throw line to help the Firebirds extend their lead back to 12, 77-65. In the final 4:36, UDC out-scored Mercy 13-3 as they went on to win comfortably by a 17-point margin.
The Firebirds, who snapped a four-game losing streak with today's win, dominated the rebounding battle, 52-27 this afternoon. They are 2-1 this season when they out-rebound their opponent. This also helped them out-score the Mavericks 34-26 in the paint and 19-9 in second-chance points as a result of 15 offensive rebounds.
UDC also did a much better job than Mercy at the free-throw line, making 17-of-23 (74-percent) compared to just 8-of-19 (42-percent), and it out-shot Mercy 50-percent to 41-percent from the field as well.
The Firebirds will look for their first back-to-back wins of the season when they host ECC foe NYIT on Wednesday, December 18th at 5 p.m.

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