PHILADELPHIA – In a fast-paced, action-packed season opener featuring 10 ties and 19 lead changes, the University of the District of Columbia came up on the short end of an 83-78 result vs. host Philadelphia University on Saturday afternoon at the Gallagher Center.
No team led by more than seven all day long, and the Firebirds (0-1) had a lead as late as under the six-minute mark of the second half, 68-66. At that point, however, the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) South Division preseason favorite Rams used a late, 7-1 push which culminated in a Kylan Guerra three-pointer to put Philadelphia up 73-69 at the 3:15 mark.
The Firebirds' leading scorer on the day, senior point guard Kasim Chandler (24 points), continued to showcase his ability to get to the basket, driving to the hoop nearly every trip down the stretch, converting a jump shot, two layups, and making 1-of-2 during a trip to the free-throw line during the final two minutes of regulation. Chandler kept it a one-possession game three separate times, including with a free-throw at the 56-second mark to make it 77-74.
Philadelphia was able to fend off Chandler and the Firebirds' late attack though, as the Rams made 10-of-12 free-throws down the stretch and won by their largest margin of the second half (5).
The Firebirds featured three starters in double-figures scoring, including Chandler's team-bests of 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Senior forward Joseph Nickerson added 17 points, six rebounds and four steals, and senior guard Reggie Sidbury also added 17 points on 6-of-9 FG shooting and 5-of-8 from long range.
Four of coaching icon Herb Magee's Philadelphia U. starting five scored in double-figures, including guard Kaison Randolph's game-high 25 points. Senior guard Andre Gibbs added 15 points, and underclassmen guards Kylan Guerra and Jordan DeCicco each pitched in 13. Six-foot-seven junior forward Eric Long crashed the boards with a game-high 12 rebounds.
UDC is back in action tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. as the Firebirds visit another CACC school from Philadelphia, Chestnut Hill College.