FLUSHING, NY – The University of the District of Columbia men's basketball team was defeated by host Queens College, 82-77 in East Coast Conference action Saturday afternoon at Fitzgerald Gymnasium.
Trailing 65-55 with 7:25 remaining in regulation, the Firebirds mounted a furious, 13-4 rally over the next four minutes to pull within one, 69-68. Queens 3-6, 1-1 ECC), however, went on to out-score UDC 13-9 the rest of the way, making 7-of-8 free-throws down the stretch and converting clutch baskets at critical moments to secure the victory.
Senior guard/forward Khalil Jackson shot 6-of-7 from the field and 6-of-8 at the foul line to lead five Firebirds in double-figures with 18 points, and he also had a game-high four blocked shots – his 6th multiple-blocked shot effort this season. Senior guard Traevon Butler added 17 points, and junior transfer guard Quadire Truesdale pitched in 10.
Meanwhile, reserves Danny Shand and Maurice Waters were very productive off the bench for UDC, as Shand produced 11 points, and game-highs of six assists and three steals, and Waters was just two rebounds shy of a double-double with 10 points and eight boards.
Queens, which enjoyed a 50-percent (10-of-20) to 29-percent (7-of-24) three-point shooting advantage and a 44-31 rebounding advantage, featured three dominant performers. Isaac Grant finished with a game-high 23 points and eight rebounds, Tyrone Hall came off the bench to add 22 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field (including 4-for-4 from long range) and 8-for-8 free-throw shooting, and Tyrese Crosdale pitched in 11 points and eight rebounds.
UDC was able to make its runs courtesy of 22 forced turnovers, which it converted into 17 points. Poor free-throw shooting came back to haunt the Firebirds, however, as they made just 16-of-25 (64-percent) at the line compared to Queens' 20-of-22 (91-percent).
Butler scored the game's first points on a layup 17 seconds in, but three consecutive three-pointers by Queens helped the Knights open up an early, 9-2 lead. Grant, who had 17 of his 22 points in the first half, later knocked down a jumper at the 13:20 mark to help Queens open up a 21-9 lead. The Firebirds worked their way back into the game as freshman guard Paul Eromosele buried a three-pointer around the eight-minute mark to cap a 13-7 spurt and bring UDC within six, 28-22.
Queens countered, however, using a 19-8 blitz to take the largest lead of the day, 47-30, and the Knights would go on to take a 49-35 lead into halftime.
In the 2nd half, UDC took advantage of a 1-of-6 FG shooting start and seven turnovers in the first nine-and-a-half minutes as the Firebirds out-scored their hosts, 19-8 and pulled within three, 57-54. (UDC may have even tied it if not for three missed free-throws)
Queens responded with an 8-1 run to extend its lead back to double-digits, 65-55 with 7:25 left to play, but still the Firebirds did not back down. Beginning with a pair of free-throws by Shand, UDC scored 13 of the game's next 17 points as the Firebirds clawed their way back to within one, 69-68 with a little over three minutes remaining. Following Butler's three-pointer to make it a one-point game, UDC forced a missed three-pointer at the other end, but Grant came up with a clutch offensive rebound for Queens and drew a foul. Grant then converted both free-throws to make it 71-68.
Still just a three-point game (73-70) after a layup by Shand with around two minutes left, UDC forced another Queens miss, but Grant was there on the offensive glass once again, and he converted the tip-in to make it a five-point game, 75-70. Queens went on to make 7-of-8 from the foul line to preserve the victory, 82-77.
Next up, UDC will host ECC foe Bridgeport on Wednesday, January 3rd at 7 p.m.