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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

UDC Women's Basketball Escapes With 77-76 Win Over Caldwell; Improves to 5-0

December 3, 2013

UDC Escapes From Cougars With 77-76 Win; Improves to 5-0

WASHINGTON, DC – A wild finish at UDC Gym Tuesday night saw the Firebirds make two of four consecutive free-throws with zero time remaining as the University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team eked out a 77-76 victory over Caldwell to improve to 5-0 on the season.
Caldwell's Antoinette Pilla made the first of two free-throws with 3.8 seconds remaining, but missed her second shot. UDC's Denikka Brent controlled the rebound and immediately passed to point guard Teara Shaw, who frantically pushed the ball up the court. Shaw was fouled in the act of shooting a three-pointer at the buzzer, and was awarded three foul shots with zero time remaining. Before Shaw shot any of her free-throws, an irate Caldwell head coach Linda Cimino was charged with a technical foul. Firebirds head coach Lester Butler, Jr. elected to send leading scorer Telisha Turner to shoot the two free-throws for the technical foul, and Turner missed the first but made the second to tie the game, 76-all. Shaw then returned to the stripe to shoot her free-throws. She missed the first, but made the second to give the Firebirds the narrowest of narrow victories, 77-76.
Turner (Criminal Justice – Wilmington, DE/Harcum) was five points under her East Coast Conference-best season average but led the team in scoring with 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting from the field (3-of-9 from long-range). Sophomore forward Tatyana Calhoun (Environmental Science – Disputanta, VA/Sussex Central HS) had seven offensive rebounds in the second half, which allowed the Firebirds to out-score the Cougars 14-0 in second chance points in the closing period. She finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds – her second double-double of the season. Junior transfer ShaKena Williams (Accounting – Washington, DC/Frederick CC) added 12 points and junior guard/forward Denikka Brent (Mechanical Engineering – Chesapeake, VA/Booker T. Washington HS) added 11 points and seven rebounds. Also, reserve point guard Shantrel Oliverwas instrumental in keeping the Firebirds in the game in the first half. She finished the game with eight points (all coming in the opening period), a game-high five steals, one block and a team-high four assists.
Emily Caswell led three Cougar scorers in double-figures with 22 points on 10-of-17 FG shooting (2-of-3 from long-range) and also added seven rebounds. Jeanette Anderson added 18 points and nine rebounds, and Antoinette Pilla pitched in with 17 points (including 4-of-7 from three-point range).
Caldwell out-shot UDC 54-percent to 40-percent from the field and 64-percent to 32-percent from three-point range. The Firebirds, however, won the rebounding battle, 42-33 (including a 25-15 disparity in the second half) and they out-scored the Cougars 42-28 in the paint and 28-9 in second-chance points.
The game, which featured 17 lead changes and six ties in all, featured a see-saw battle early on, with Caldwell taking the upper-hand, 24-21 on a pair of free-throws by Anderson near the nine-minute mark. Consecutive three-pointers by the 6-foot-2 center/forward Milena Bubnjevic(Criminal Justice – Leskovac, Serbia/Leskovacka Gimnazija) ignited a 12-0 Firebirds surge that propelled the hosts to their largest lead of the night, 33-24 with 7:45 to play in the first half. Caldwell had a resounding response though, as the Cougars mounted a 19-4 run over the next six minutes to go in front, 43-37 at the 1:35 mark. Caldwell still led 45-39 with under a minute left, but Turner hoisted a prayer at the halftime buzzer that somehow went in, making the score 45-42 at intermission.
The second half scoring began with consecutive layups by Brent, giving UDC a 46-45 advantage within the first minute of action once play resumed. An Alyssa James layup, followed by a Nicole Angelo three-pointer helped Caldwell regain a four-point lead, 50-46. Later, UDC used a 5-0 run to erase a 52-48 deficit and pull ahead, 53-52 on a Calhoun layup, but the Cougars jumped right back in front, 55-53 on a three-pointer by Pilla. Caldwell would not trail again until the very end of regulation.
Still leading 55-54 at the 13:25 mark, Caldwell went on an 8-1 run, culminating in a Pilla jumper to take a 63-55 lead with about 11 minutes left to play. Calhoun scored four points during a Firebird 6-0 run which cut the lead to two, and later, a running jumper in the paint by Williams at the 5:46 mark brought UDC within one, 66-65. Caswell answered for Caldwell, knocking down a clutch jumper near the five-minute mark. Pilla then buried a three-pointer close to the four-minute mark, and the Cougar lead was back to six, 71-65.
Twice the Firebirds pulled within three, and later a Shantrel Oliver steal led to a fast-break three-pointer by Williams, which made it a two-point game, 75-73, with 56 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Caldwell's Anderson missed a wide-open finger-roll layup, and the Firebirds went right back down the court and tied the score on a Brent layup with 33 ticks left.
Sophomore guard Tajruba Baldwin-Kollore (Public Health – Newport News, VA/Denbigh HS) came up with a steal on the next Caldwell possession, but she then turned the ball right back over on the fast-break, giving the Cougars the ball with 21 seconds left. On the brink of turning the ball over before half-court, Cimino was awarded a controversial timeout with 12 seconds showing on the clock. Caldwell then used up some more clock before Pilla was fouled in the paint driving to the basket with three seconds remaining. She made the first to put her team up 76-75, but missed the second, which set the stage for the bizarre ending to the game.
UDC, which is two spots away from earning a top-25 national ranking in today's USA Today/WBCA Poll, is now just two wins away from tying the 2011-12 team's program-best seven wins to start the season. The Firebirds will host conference foe LIU Post on Saturday, December 7th at 1 p.m.

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