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Firebirds Outlast Goldey-Beacom in 80-79 Overtime Win in Season Home Opener

Men's Basketball vs. Bloomfield, 11/18/17
Kevin Cox led the Firebirds with 24 points and 12 rebounds - both game-highs.

WASHINGTON, DC – The University of the District of Columbia men's basketball team earned a thrilling, 80-79, overtime win vs. visiting Goldey-Beacom College in East Region non-conference play Tuesday night at UDC Gym.

With the win, the Firebirds improved to 3-2 overall, going above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2016-17 season. The Lightning, coming off a 104-87 trouncing of East Coast Conference preseason favorite, University of Bridgeport, this past Saturday, drops to 1-4 overall with tonight's loss.

UDC used a team effort to win this very evenly-played contest tonight, but leading the way for the Firebirds was senior guard Kevin Cox, with a double-double effort of 24 points and 12 rebounds – both game-highs.

Cox was aided by his starting backcourt mate, Kerry Kirkwood, who registered 14 points and six rebounds, and reserve guards Juanye Colon and Zachary Olukanni, who added 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Reigning ECC Defensive Player of the Week, senior guard Quadire Truesdale, also made his impact felt despite 0-for-6 field goal shooting tonight. He contributed by handing out a career-high 10 assists, grabbing three rebounds, and helping play lock-down defense on the reigning Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Player of the Week, Corey Taite.

While Taite managed 16 points, he did so by shooting just 3-of-11 from the field and 10-of-13 at the foul line. He did also hand out a team-best eight assists.

Taite was one of four Lightning scorers in double-figures, including a 17-point effort by Marcellus Livingston, and 11 points apiece by Troy Stancil and Mahir Johnson. Tevin Service hauled in a team-best nine rebounds.

UDC got on the board first with a layup by Aaren Smith, but Goldey-Beacom buried its first three three-point attempts to race out to an early, 9-2 lead. The Firebirds answered back with a 10-2 burst, and it was back-and-forth, with the two regional foes trading blows for much of the first half.

With the score knotted at 18 just past the mid-way mark of the first half, the Lightning used an 11-4 surge to create a seven-point advantage – their largest of the half, 29-22, with three-and-a-half minutes to play before intermission. But the Firebirds, playing on their home floor for the first time this season, kept their composure and fought their way back with a 14-6 rally to end the half. The run was highlighted by Colon's seven points and Cox's two three-pointers, and it put UDC on top at halftime, 36-35.

Stancil kicked off the scoring in the 2nd half with a three-pointer almost 50 seconds into the action, and the back-and-forth battling ensued. In total, there were 10 lead changes and seven ties, and it was Goldey-Beacom who led by the largest margin of the night, 11, at the 10:38 mark in the 2nd half. UDC was in front, 43-40 at the 15:18 mark when the Lightning embarked on a 16-2 blitz over the next four and-a-half minutes and claimed a 56-45 lead.

Still an eight-point deficit for the Firebirds as the clock dipped under six minutes in regulation, Colon and Cox led UDC on a scoring tear as the hosts out-scored GBC 16-6 over the next five minutes and claimed a 69-67 lead with 1:03 left to play.

On the ensuing Lightning possession, with the shot clock winding down, Taite was able to draw a foul and get to the foul line for a pair of free throws to tie the score. He calmly sank both, and neither team was able to score for the rest of regulation, resulting in a 69-all tie and overtime.

Cox kicked off the scoring in the extra session, sending the Firebird faithful into a frenzy nearly a minute into the period. Then, following a 1-of-2 trip at the foul line by Taite, Olukanni converted a layup on a nice drive to the hoop and score to make it a two-possession game, 74-70.

Over the next minute of game clock time, the two teams traded a pair of free-throws, and with Cox's free-throws, UDC maintained its four-point advantage, 76-72.

A two-point game after a Johnson layup at the 1:47 mark, Cox drove to the rim and his finger roll swirled around the rim before falling through the hoop to put UDC once again back up by four, 78-74. Then, after forcing a three-point miss on the defensive end, Olukanni grabbed the rebound and was fouled immediately. He then went to the line and sank a pair to make it a six-point UDC lead, 80-74.

Later, at the 32-second mark of the overtime period, UDC was assessed with a technical foul, resulting in four straight free-throws for the Lightning. Taite shot and made the first two for the technical foul, and Johnson made the first of two shots for the original personal foul. After missing the 2nd free-throw, Kirkwood came down with the rebound, and GBC immediately fouled him.

With a chance to make it a two-possession game once again, Kirkwood missed both free-throws,giving the Lightning life down three, 80-77. Following a GBC timeout, the Lightning scored a quick two via a Stancil layup on a play that took only seven seconds, and they now only trailed by one with 15 seconds remaining.

Goldey-Beacom's full-court press then forced a UDC turnover near half court with only seven seconds remaining, and the Lightning would have possession and a chance to win. A suffocating UDC defense, particularly by Truesdale, resulted in Goldey-Beacom not even being able to get a shot attempt off in that final seven seconds, and UDC held on for the one-point victory.

The Firebirds are back in action on Saturday, November 24th with a home contest vs. Nyack College. Tip off is at 1 p.m.