WASHINGTON, DC – The University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team fought back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit in just under four minutes at the end of regulation to force overtime, but was done-in by a 6-2 finishing run by LIU Post, as the Firebirds ultimately fell to their East Coast Conference rival, 84-83 in a thrilling game Wednesday night at UDC Sports Complex.
The Firebirds (2-13, 1-4) set a season-high scoring mark tonight as they shot 42-percent (28-of-67) from the field and 35-percent (12-of-34) from long range while also making 68-percent at the foul line (15-of-22).
The majority of the UDC scoring came from two upperclassmen guards, Shantrel Oliver and Kaiya Coleman. Oliver put on a show for the Firebird faithful tonight with a career-high 36 points on 13-of-24 FG shooting, 5-of-10 shooting from behind-the-arc, and 5-of-7 made free-throws. Her eight points in the final 29 seconds of regulation – including the three-pointer at the buzzer – were what enabled UDC to force an extra session. She also handed out a game-high five assists and had just one turnover. Coleman, meanwhile, turned in a season-best 21 points on 7-of-10 FG shooting (4-of-5 from three-point range) and 3-of-4 FT shooting.
First-year head coach Juan Dixon also received terrific efforts from junior guard Dionna Tunstall and senior center Jaslynn Rollins. Tunstall, in her 2nd start of the season, registered a career-high 11 points, and the 6'1 Rollins had a monster day on the boards with 15 total rebounds (six offensive) to go with a season-high tying seven points and two steals. This marked Rollins' 6th double-figure rebounding game this season.
LIU Post (7-7, 4-1 ECC) featured four scorers in double-figures, including forward Mikaiya Moore's team-high 30 points. Moore shot 14-of-20 from the field and 2-of-2 at the line, and she also recorded six rebounds. Sharp-shooting reserve Kylie Garrett played 27 minutes off the bench and made 5-of-8 three-point attempts and 2-of-4 FT for 17 total points to go with five rebounds and one blocked shot, and Shannon Doyle also came off the bench to pack the stat sheet with 14 points, five rebounds, a game-high four steals and three assists. Starting guard Kristen Olsen was the fourth Pioneer in double-figures with 11 points along with five rebounds.
The Pioneers, with five substitutes at their disposal compared to only three for UDC, enjoyed a 33-5 advantage in bench points tonight. The visitors also won the rebounding battle, 49-37, which led to advantages in points in the paint (42-20) and 2nd chance points (19-12). Also, LIU Post had 10 more points off of turnovers (21-11) despite the two teams being equal in turnovers with 13.
Coleman, Tunstall and Oliver each knocked down a three-pointer in the first four minutes of action to help UDC grab an early, 11-4 lead, but the Pioneers countered with a 10-2 run and took the lead 14-13 on a pair of Olsen free-throws. Three more lead changes would ensue, but it was the Firebirds on top, 20-19 at the end of the quarter courtesy of a layup by Kaylah Cooper. (This was the first time this season UDC controlled a lead at the end of the first quarter)
Garrett came out hot in the 2nd quarter, knocking down back-to-back three-pointers during a 6-1 run for LIU Post to start the period, but Oliver answered back for UDC with seven consecutive points to put her team up three, 28-25. Oliver would give the Firebirds back the lead, 35-34 on a layup at the 4:07 mark, but a layup by LIU Post's Moore at 3:11 would give the Pioneers a lead they would not relinquish until the end of regulation. The visitors went on to close the 2nd quarter out on a 6-2 run and took a 40-37 lead into halftime.
Still a one-possession game four minutes into the 3rd quarter after another three-pointer by Oliver, Garrett buried another three-pointer to kick-off an 11-2 march by the Pioneers that culminated in back-to-back layups by Moore and put the visitors ahead by their largest margin of the night, 57-46. UDC would then, perhaps, take back some of the momentum by ending the quarter on a 4-0 run that included a pair of free-throws by Tunstall and a layup by Coleman; however, the Pioneers would take a 57-50 lead into the 4th quarter.
The Pioneers looked well on their way to a victory in regulation six minutes into the final quarter as Doyle's three-pointer put the visitors ahead, 70-60, but the Firebirds began to claw away at that lead, beginning with a 1-of-2 trip at the line by Tunstall at the 3:56 mark.
Following Tunstall's trip to the line, Coleman earned a trip to the stripe at 3:36 and sunk both to make it a seven-point game. Then came a lay-up and the foul by Rollins at 2:59, and she converted the free-throw to make it, 70-66. Rollins later earned another trip to the line after corralling an offensive rebound and drawing a foul inside on Moore. She made 1-of-2 at the line on that trip. Finally, after a technical foul was assessed to the Pioneers at 1:52, Oliver went to the line to make 1-of-2 at the line and put the finishing touches on an 8-0 UDC run that pulled the Firebirds within two, 70-68.
UDC pulled within two three more times, including a 77-75 score with nine seconds remaining following a bank-shot, three-pointer by Oliver. On the ensuing Pioneer possession, UDC fouled Garrett with six seconds showing on the clock. Garrett missed the first but made the second, leaving UDC a chance to force a tie with a three-pointer. Oliver took the inbounds pass, sprinted down the floor, and buried a three-pointer at the buzzer to force a 78-all tie and an extra session.
Oliver was not quite done as she converted a three-point play 23 seconds into the overtime period to give UDC its first lead (81-78) since the 2nd quarter. Consecutive layups by Doyle put LIU Post in front, 82-81, but Rollins gave UDC back the lead, 83-82 with a layup at the 1:58 mark. Fittingly, however, the most dominant Pioneer player of the night, Moore, made a layup at the 1:45 mark which proved to be the final points scored by either team the remainder of the game. UDC miss back-to-back jump shots, and in between, Doyle missed a three-pointer with 58 seconds left. Following a steal by Rollins, UDC called a timeout with 10 seconds remaining.
The Firebirds, unfortunately, were unable to get a shot off in that time, as LIU Post's defense held for the narrow, one-point victory.
Next up, UDC will travel to ECC foe NYIT on Saturday, January 7th for a 3 p.m. tip-off.