WASHINGTON, DC – The two senior veterans on a severely young University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team – Shantrel Oliver and Jaslynn Rollins – both came through big time in their final game as Firebirds, leading UDC to a 66-54 victory over East Coast Conference foe University of Bridgeport in both teams' regular season finale on Saturday afternoon in the nation's capital.
Oliver led all scorers with 19 points on 5-of-10 FG shooting and 7-of-8 FT shooting while also producing game-highs of seven assists and six steals. Rollins, meanwhile, posted her 10th double-figure rebounding game this season with a game-high 11 to go with seven points.
Bridgeport (15-13, 9-9 ECC), which would have earned a No. 5 seed in the ECC playoffs with a win today, will now settle for a No. 6 seed and a Wednesday quarterfinal matchup vs. No. 3 St. Thomas Aquinas. The Purple Knights were led by reserve forward Anastasia Williams' double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, and starting forward Evelyn Ovner's 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
The Firebird defense held Bridgeport to 33-percent (18-of-54) shooting from the field today, including a paltry six-percent (1-of-16) from long range. UDC shot a little better (38-percent on 20-of-53) from the field and much better (26-percent on 7-of-27) from behind-the-arc. The hosts also had three fewer turnovers (21-18) and 11 more points off of turnovers (24-13).
The lead in this game only changed hands twice, as Oliver knocked down a three-pointer for the first points of the game, and then buried another three-pointer to give the Firebirds back the lead for good, 6-4. Oliver would score UDC's first eight points of the game and break the only tie of the game at 6-all, just past the four-minute mark. The Firebirds collectively shot 3-of-10 from long range in the opening quarter and took a 13-8 lead at the horn.
In the 2nd quarter, UDC out-scored UB 8-4 over the first three minutes and extended its leaded to 21-12. The run was aided by a three-pointer apiece by freshmen sisters Bianca and Bailee White. The Firebirds would ultimately take a 32-25 lead into halftime.
Bridgeport cut the UDC lead to two with a 5-0 run to start the 2nd half, but the Firebirds answered with an 11-2 burst that include two buckets by Rollins and two layups by freshman guard Kaylah Cooper, and suddenly UDC's lead was back to 11, 43-32. The Firebirds would take an eight-point lead, 47-39 heading into the 4th quarter.
Williams single-handedly steered the Purple Knights back within a one-possession game as she scored six straight points during a 6-1 surge by Bridgeport and cut the UDC lead to 48-45 with 7:36 to play. Again the Firebirds responded though, as Bianca White scored the final five points of a 7-2 run and pushed UDC's lead back up to nine, 55-46.
Back came Bridgeport, however, as Williams was at it again with five straight points during a 6-0 Purple Knights charge, and with a Nicole Johnson free-throw, the visitors were back within three, 55-52 with 4:38 to play.
At that point though, Oliver kick-started an 11-0 run by the Firebirds over a span of four minutes, and UDC took its largest lead of the day, 66-52, with only 38 seconds remaining. The Firebirds went on to win by a final of 66-54.
Head Coach Juan Dixon finishes his first season with an overall record of 3-25 and 2-16 mark in league play, and he will return seven of the nine student-athletes on this year's team in 2017-18.