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Firebirds Fend Off Lions for First Win

NyAsia Anderson led the Firebirds with a game-high 20 points to go with eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
NyAsia Anderson led the Firebirds with a game-high 20 points to go with eight rebounds and two blocked shots.

LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, PA – Juan Dixon earned his first career collegiate head coaching victory as the visiting University of the District of Columbia Firebirds held off a late run by the host Lincoln University Lions to come away, 65-63 victors on Tuesday night at Rivero Hall.

The Firebirds improved to 1-4 with tonight's win, out-shooting their opponent from the field and three-point range for the first time this season. Lincoln, of the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region and Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, lost its second straight game to fall to 1-4 on the season.

Freshmen twin sisters NyAsia and Dayjah Anderson led the way for UDC, with NyAsia scoring a season and game-high 20 points, and Dayjah adding a season-high 13 points. The sisters shot a combined 11-of-17 from the field and 5-of-6 from three-point range while also teaming up for 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. Senior guard Shantrel Oliver was the third Firebird in double-figures with 11 points to go with three rebounds and two assists, and senior forward Jaslynn Rollins pitched in five points while equaling her season-high of 10 rebounds.

Lincoln featured four scorers in double-figures, including a team-high 15 points off the bench by Kholby Oliver. Also, Diamond Mickle recorded the game's only double-double with 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

UDC missed its first four field goal attempts and turned the ball over four times in the first four minutes of action, as the Firebirds dug themselves an 8-0 hole to start the game. Freshman guard Bailee White would get UDC on the board with a three-pointer at the 5:36 mark, as the Firebirds went on to convert four of their final seven field goal shots of the first quarter – all three-pointers – to pull within 15-13 at the end of the period.

NyAsia Anderson, who had two of the four Firebird three-pointers in the first quarter, knocked down another three-pointer to kick off the scoring in the 2nd quarter to give UDC its first lead of the game, 16-15. She'd go on to score all 10 points of a 10-3 Firebird run to start the quarter which amounted to a 23-18 lead for UDC nearing the 7:30 mark. An 11-4 response by Lincoln put the Lions briefly back in front, 29-27, but Shantrel Oliver helped the Firebirds counter with a 10-2 run to close out the half – of which, she scored eight points, including two three-pointers.

Lincoln would close the gap to four twice in the opening minutes of the 3rd quarter, but another Bailee White three-pointer would ignite a 14-1 Firebird surge culminating in a Rollins layup to give UDC its largest lead of the night, 53-36 with just under three minutes left in the period. Lincoln would close out the quarter on a 10-2 run to pull within nine heading into the final period.

The Lions' momentum from the end of the 3rd quarter continued into the 4th quarter as the hosts closed to within three, 59-56, with a 10-4 run to start the final period – a combined 20-6 run that spanned about 8:30. Dayjah Anderson stopped the bleeding at the 3:42 mark as she buried a three-pointer off of an assist by Shantrel Oliver, and Oliver would later convert 1-of-2 at the foul line to make it a seven-point UDC lead, 63-56, approaching the two-minute mark.

But Lincoln's Teira Pendleton would convert 3-of-4 free throws during two different trips to the foul line at the 1:55 and 1:02 marks, cutting the deficit to four. Then, following a pair of free-throws by Dayjah Anderson, it took just four seconds for the Lions to get down the floor and McKenzie Spencer to convert a three-pointer to make it 65-62 with 45 seconds remaining.

The Firebirds managed to take 27 seconds off the clock on the ensuing possession, but a Shantrel Oliver jumped rimmed out, and Lincoln quickly made its way back up the floor. Jaeda Davis drew a foul by NyAsia Anderson, and made 1-of-2 at the line to make it a two-point game, 65-63 with 14 seconds left in regulation. The Lions then fouled Shantrel Oliver to stop the clock with 11 seconds remaining, sending Oliver to the line to shoot two. Oliver would miss both free throws, and Lincoln had a chance to win the game in regulation with one last possession and 11 seconds on the clock.

Tight Firebird defense in the clutch resulted in a missed jumper at the buzzer by Lincoln's Spencer, and the Firebirds held on to earn their first victory of the season, 65-63.

UDC out-shot Lincoln 40-percent (22-of-55) to 31-percent (23-of-74) from the field and 50-percent (11-of-22) to 29-percent (8-of-28) from three-point range to make up for seven more turnovers (19-12), a 24-16 disparity in points in the paint favoring Lincoln, and a 22-10 disadvantage in bench points.

Next up, the Firebirds will visit Virginia State on Monday, November 28th at 5:30 p.m.