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Firebirds Out-fight Eagles to Earn 75-71 Win in Home Opener

Kaylah Cooper registered five points and three steals.
Kaylah Cooper registered five points and three steals.

WASHINGTON, DC – The University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team defeated Post University (CT), 75-71 in East Region non-conference play in front of a boisterous UDC Homecoming crowd at UDC Sports Complex Wednesday night for the Firebirds' season home opener.

UDC (2-1) featured three scorers in double-figures, including freshman starting guard Daeja Quick with 19 points on 7-of-14 FG shooting. The reigning East Coast Conference Rookie of the Week also collected six rebounds, a game-high six assists, and four steals. Forward Desiree Gaeckler added 11 points and seven rebounds, and guard Mia-Alexis Lloyd pitched in 10 points, four rebounds and a blocked shot – both off the bench.

Meanwhile, graduate guard/forward Jasmyn Fogle carried the Eagles (0-1) on her back for most of the game, registering game-highs of 38 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots in 38 minutes of work. She shot 12-of-23 from the field and 12-of-15 from the foul line. Fogle's counterpart inside was 6-foot-2-inch forward Meaghan Gotham, who added 10 points and six rebounds. Also, guard Gabriela Middleton pitched in with six assists and a game-high five steals, and Daja Polk handed out five assists as well.

This game featured nine ties and 17 lead changes, with neither team ever leading by more than seven points. UDC led for 26:07, Post for 10:21, and the game was tied for 3:32.

Team depth played a pivotal role in the Firebirds' second win of the season tonight under first year head coach John Nakpodia, as UDC's bench out-scored Post's, 33-6. Eight different Firebirds scored five or more points, compared to only four Eagles.

The first half featured a see-saw battle early on with three ties and seven lead changes in just the first quarter. Fittingly, the first period ended in a 14-all tie. In the 2nd quarter, however, Post opened on a 6-0 run to take its largest lead of the night, 20-14 with just under nine minutes to play before halftime. At that point, however, the Firebirds used a 14-1 surge over the next five minutes to take their largest lead of the game, 28-21. Freshman guard Danielle Harrington and Gaeckler each scored four points during that stretch, and Quick scored the final six points of the run on back-to-back conventional three-point plays. Post fought back to close within two at the end of the half though, as the Eagles out-scored UDC 8-3 in the final four minutes of the quarter to make the score 31-29 at intermission.

Post once again had a quick start in the 3rd quarter, opening on an 8-2 burst and claiming a 37-33 lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the period. Still a four-point Eagles lead, 42-38 with under five minutes to play in the 3rd quarter, a three-pointer by Harrington sparked an 11-0 Firebirds surge which helped UDC tie its largest lead of the night, 49-42 with a little over three minutes left. Junior transfer guard Natasha Roy and Lloyd both knocked down three-pointers during that Firebirds run. UDC would settle for a 57-52 lead heading into the final period.

In the 4th quarter, the Eagles quickly worked their way back into the game, as Fogle scored seven points (including two three-pointers), and Gotham and Toni Deren each added four points in the first five-and-a-half minutes of the period as Post collectively out-scored UDC, 15-10 to briefly re-claim the lead, 67-66 with 4:29 to play. The lead switched hands three more times before UDC took control of the game following a Dana Harrington layup to put the Firebirds in front, 70-69 at the 3:38 mark. Harrington's layup began a 6-1 burst by UDC, culminating in a Quick layup to put the Firebirds in front, 74-70 with 2:32 to play.

Daeja Quick had four steals in the final three minutes of regulation, and UDC's defense held Post to four turnovers and 0-for-4 shooting from the field on its final four field goal attempts. The Firebirds went on to win by a four-point margin, 75-71.

Next up, UDC will host Wilmington University on Saturday, November 18th at 3 p.m.