Firebirds Edged by Millersville, 82-79

Mia-Alexis Lloyd led the Firebirds with 17 points and six rebounds.
Mia-Alexis Lloyd led the Firebirds with 17 points and six rebounds.

WASHINGTON, DC – The University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team was edged by Millersville University, 82-79 in non-regional action at the UDC Sports Complex Tuesday night.

The Firebirds (2-9) fought their way back from a 10-0 deficit to start the game with strong 2nd and 3rd quarter performances, setting the stage for a 4th quarter that featured nine lead changes and six ties. Millersville (4-5) snatched the lead for good with 3:38 remaining in regulation on a layup by Courtney Dimoff, and the Marauders went on to defend UDC's buzzer-beating three-point attempt for the tie superbly to claim the narrow road win.

UDC featured five double-figure scorers, including a team-high 16 points by junior transfer guard Mia-Alexis Lloyd for her 5th double-figure scoring game this season. Freshman guard Daeja Quick managed 10 points on 3-of-10 FG shooting and 4-of-6 made free-throws for her 10th double-figure scoring game this season, and she also contributed two assists and two steals. All three Firebird reserves reached double-figure scoring as well – junior transfer guard Natasha Roy recorded 15 points and a game-high four assists, freshman forward Mia Boyd posted a season-high 12 points and five rebounds, and sophomore transfer guard Natalija Dubrovina added 11 points and three rebounds.

Millersville, a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), ended a two-game losing skid courtesy of four scorers in double-figures, including Dimoff's game-high 18 points. Dimoff shot 8-of-16 from the field and registered six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Also, forward Kendra Bamberger and reserve guard Lauren Lister combined for 29 points and 14 rebounds.

Though UDC finished the game with only 16 turnovers – its 2nd fewest total this season – the Firebirds committed nine of those turnovers in the first quarter, including four in the first 3:05. The Marauders took advantage by racing out to a 10-0 lead, and although UDC responded with a 7-0 burst, Millersville out-scored the Firebirds 9-5 the rest of the way to take a 19-12 lead at quarter's end.  The Firebirds had cut the deficit to five after a three-pointer by Dubrovina with 26 seconds to play, and they had an opportunity to make it a one-possession game with possession and just under 10 seconds showing on the clock. A turnover, however, led to an Olivia Mottern made jump shot just before the buzzer to give the visitors a seven-point cushion.

Millersville opened the 2nd quarter on an 8-2 march to take its largest lead of the night, 27-14 right around the eight-minute mark. Still a nine-point Marauder lead after a Bamberger three-pointer at the 3:23 mark, Boyd would score six of her 10 2nd quarter points to help UDC out-score MU 8-5 to end the quarter and pull within six, 40-34, by halftime.

Bamberger extended the Millersville lead to eight with the first points of the 3rd quarter on a layup a little over a minute in, but at that point, the Firebirds used a 10-0 surge to take their first lead of the game, 44-42. Dubrovina scored five of those 10 points, including the run-capping three-pointer at the 6:40 mark to put UDC in front. The Marauders answered, however, with eight consecutive points, and went on to out-score UDC 14-7 in a span of six minutes to re-claim a seven-point lead, 56-49. Back-to-back three-pointers by Dubrovina (who scored eight of her 11 in the 3rd quarter alone) and Roy enabled UDC to close out the final minute of the period on a 6-1 surge though, as the Firebirds headed to the 4th quarter only trailing by two, 57-55.

The 4th quarter featured a see-saw battle, as UDC forced two ties at 57 and 59 before taking its 2nd lead of the night, 61-59 on a layup by Lloyd around the 7:30 mark. The Firebirds, who never led by more than two points tonight, also claimed leads of 63-61 (6:57), 65-64 (6:22), 70-69 (4:39) and 72-71 (3:45), but Dimoff's layup at 3:38 gave Millersville the lead back for good, 73-72. UDC went on to shoot 2-for-5 from the field and 2-for-6 from the foul line down the stretch, as Millersville snuck away with the three-point victory.

Next up, UDC will return to East Coast Conference play after the winter break with a road game at Queens College on Saturday, December 30th.