Firebirds Outlast Wildcats in Overtime, 90-84 for ECC Season-Opening Win

Senior guard Joseph Nickerson forced overtime by making two clutch free throws with under a seond remaining in regulation.
Senior guard Joseph Nickerson forced overtime by making two clutch free throws with under a seond remaining in regulation.

WASHINGTON, DC – The University of the District of Columbia men's basketball team outscored its hosts Daemen College, 10-4 in the overtime session to pull away with a 90-84 victory in its East Coast Conference season opener Saturday afternoon at the UDC Sports Complex.

The Firebirds (2-4, 1-0 ECC) just barely staved off defeat in regulation when, trailing 80-78, senior guard Joseph Nickerson traveled the length of the floor in under four seconds and drew a shooting foul with .2 of a second remaining. Nickerson – who was 5-of-5 at the line for the day – calmly sank both free-throws to send the game to overtime.

In the overtime session, UDC earned four different trips to the free-throw line and made 8-of-8 at the stripe. Meanwhile, Daemen shot 2-of-5 from the field and turned the ball over three times in the extra session, as the Firebirds prevailed by a six-point margin, snapping their three-game losing streak and opening conference play 1-0.

Daemen (5-3, 0-2 ECC) featured four scorers in double-figures, including a game-high 29 points by guard Supreme Hannah. Hannah shot 8-of-14 from the field and a perfect 10-of-10 at the free-throw line. Forwards Arif Mehmetaj and Deion Hamilton registered 17 and 14 points respectively while combining for nine rebounds and eight assists, and guard Darius Garvin added 12 points and six rebounds.

The Firebirds were paced by five scorers in double-figures, including four of the team's starting five. Senior guard Reggie Sidbury led the way with 21 points on 7-of-11 FG shooting (5-of-9 from long range) and 2-of-2 from the line. Nickerson packed the stat sheet with 19 points, game-highs of nine rebounds and five steals, and three assists. Guards Kasim Chandler and Traevon Butler added 14 and 13 points, respectively, with Chandler also handing out a game-high seven assists and Butler hauling in eight rebounds. Also, reserve guard Khalil Jackson gave the Firebirds a giant lift off the bench with a season-high 13 points, a game-high four blocked shots and seven rebounds.

UDC out-shot Daemen 46-percent (28-of-61) to 41-percent (28-of-68) from the field and a whopping 46-percent (11-of-24) to 25-percent (6-of-24) from long range. The Firebirds, who made 23 straight free-throws after missing their first of the game, also out-shot Daemen, 96-percent (23-of-24) to 85-percent (22-of-26) at the foul line.

Daemen out-rebounded UDC 42-33, out-scored UDC 36 to 22 in the paint, and almost doubled-up the Firebirds, 10-6 in 2nd chance points. But UDC had four more points (17-13) off of the same number of turnovers on both sides (16), and the hosts had the deeper bench with 17 points from reserves to Daemen's 10.

Next up, UDC will host another ECC foe, Roberts Wesleyan on Wednesday, December 7th at 7 p.m.