WASHINGTON, DC – The University of the District of Columbia men's basketball team was defeated, 79-70 by Slippery Rock University in non-regional action Tuesday night at the UDC Sports Complex.
The Firebirds (1-4) featured four scorers in double-figures, including senior guard Traevon Butler's team-high 19 points, but shot a paltry 16-percent (3-of-23) from three-point range and 68-percent (15-of-22) from the foul line as a team.
The Rock (3-2), a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) in the Atlantic Region, was led by just two double-figure scorers: forward Micah Till with game-highs of 26 points and 10 rebounds, and reserve guard Aaron McDonald with 25 points (10-of-16 FG and 3-of-4 from long range) and eight rebounds. SRU, defensively, blocked a combined 11 shots on the night, led by forward Brandon Simmons' game-high five.
Slippery Rock's Merdic Green knocked down each of his first two three-point attempts of the night to help The Rock out to an early 8-3 lead about three minutes into the action. Butler responded for the Firebirds by starting and capping a 6-0 run with jump shots to put UDC in front, 9-8. The hosts took what would be their largest lead of the night, 17-13 courtesy of a Paul Eromosele jump shot at the 11-minute mark. They still led by four, 23-19, approaching the eight-minute mark when McDonald led The Rock on an 18-2 burst over the next seven-and-a-half minutes. McDonald knocked down two three-pointers and added a layup during that run by The Rock, and SRU had its largest lead of the night, 37-25 with 1:24 left before halftime. UDC would score the final four points of the half and go into intermission trailing, 37-29.
In the 2nd half, UDC freshman forward Maurice Waters scored eight of his 10 points, reserve guard Danny Shand pitched in all of his 11, and Butler added 11 of his 19. UDC mounted several different comebacks, only to have Till or McDonald, time and again, knock down a shot and put an end to the Firebird run.
Waters scored the first four points to start the 2nd half on back-to-back layups and cut UDC's deficit to four, but SRU responded with three straight points. Later, Butler's three-pointer brought the Firebirds within four again around the 17-minute mark, but five straight points by The Rock extended the lead back to nine, 45-36.
SRU had taken its largest lead of the 2nd half, 55-45 on a McDonald jumper at the 10:16 mark when UDC mounted a 5-0 run on a pair of Waters free-throws and a conventional three-point play by Butler to cut the deficit to five, 55-50. But right back with a 5-0 response was The Rock with a Till jumper followed by a McDonald three-pointer, and SRU led 60-50 with seven minutes left to play.
Twice more, UDC cut the deficit to five before finally pulling within three, 62-59 at the 4:34 mark on a Butler layup assisted by guard Quadire Truesdale (15 pts, game-high four assists). Once again, however, Till came through with a layup to make it a two-possession game, 64-59.
Three more times UDC pulled within three before finally pulling within two on a 1-of-2 trip at the line by Shand at the 1:21 mark. (The Firebirds missed six free-throws in the 2nd half) But McDonald had the answer at the other end with a clutch running jumper from the elbow with just under a minute remaining to extend SRU's lead to four, 71-67.
Slippery Rock would go on to ice the game with 8-of-10 shooting at the line down the stretch, and The Rock would win comfortably, 79-70.
Next up for UDC is a road game at Wilmington University (DE) on Wednesday, November 29th at 7 p.m.