Firebirds Soar Past Molloy, 90-79 for Third Straight Comeback Win

Joseph Nickerson had 28 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 assists.
Joseph Nickerson had 28 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 assists.

WASHINGTON, DC – The University of the District of Columbia men's basketball team overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat East Coast Conference foe Molloy College, 90-79 at the UDC Sports Complex on Wednesday night.

The Firebirds (9-6, 6-1 ECC) have now won six of their last seven games, including their last three. Their last five victories have come after trailing at halftime, and tonight's 10-point halftime deficit was the largest they have overcome this season. UDC out-scored Molloy, 52-31 in the second half to complete this 11-point victory.

Molloy, which had won five of its last six games like the Firebirds coming in, fell to 8-8 overall and 4-3 in league play with tonight's loss.

UDC was led by its senior guards Joseph Nickerson (28 points, seven rebounds, game-high five steals, three assists) and Kasim Chandler (25 points, game-high five assists, four rebounds and three steals), with other guards Reggie Sidbury and Traevon Butler adding 14 and 11 points, respectively. Chandler, who was recognized before the game for scoring his 1,000th point this past Saturday at NYIT, has now scored 20 or more points in six straight games.

Head coach Mike Riley also got a tremendous energy lift from his bench, as junior guard Jahkeem Folks contributed game and season-highs of 11 rebounds and three blocked shots to go with eight points, two assists and one steal, and fellow junior guard Anthony Matthews pitched in two points and a game-high-tying five assists.

Molloy also put four scorers in double-figures, including a game-high 29 points by guard Jaylen Morris, who shot 12-of-18 from the field and 4-of-5 at the foul line while also hauling in a team-best nine rebounds. Curtis Jenkins added 17 points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes played off the bench, guard Charlie Marquardt registered 15 points and six rebounds, and forward Mike Guzzardi pitched in 12 points and four rebounds.

The Lions had slight advantages in field goal shooting percentage (49% to 47%) and rebounding (38-33), and they out-scored UDC in the paint, 44-34. The Firebirds, however, out-shot their guests, 40-percent to 21-percent from three-point range (more than tripling up the Lions in three-pointers, 10-3) and 82-percent to 76-percent at the foul line, and they committed seven fewer turnovers (13-6) while handing out 14 more assists (18-4).

Molloy scored the game's first seven points and raced out to a 20-9 lead around the 11-minute mark in the first half. The Lions, who out-shot the Firebirds 61-percent to 42-percent from the field and out-rebounded UDC, 23-10 in that opening half, led by as many as 13 before settling for a 48-38 advantage going into intermission.

Still a 12-point Firebird deficit just beyond the 18-minute mark in the 2nd half, UDC used a game-transforming, 27-6 barrage over a span of a little over nine minutes that propelled the hosts to a nine-point lead, 69-60 with 8:43 remaining. Nickerson had 11 points, three steals and two assists during that run, and Folks had three blocked shots and eight rebounds over that stretch.

Molloy responded with an 8-0 run to pull within one, 69-68, with 6:52 remaining, but UDC countered with the next seven straight points, including a three-point dagger by Butler at 5:13 to put the Firebirds up 76-68. Those seven straight points were part of a 13-2 UDC surge which gave the hosts their largest lead of the night, 84-71 with 2:20 left to play. The Firebirds then coasted to an 11-point victory, 90-79.

Next up, the Firebirds visit ECC foe Mercy College on Saturday, January 14th at 2:30 p.m.