RIVERDALE, NY – The University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team was narrowly defeated, 53-51 by East Coast Conference foe Mercy College at Peter Jay Sharp Center Saturday afternoon.
The Firebirds (2-12, 0-5 ECC) led for nearly 27 minutes of the 40-minute regulation game, including both a game-high eight point advantage with 4:10 remaining in the 3rd quarter and a six-point advantage around the five-and-a-half minute mark in the 4th quarter. The Mavericks (5-10, 1-5 ECC), however, scored nine of the final 12 points in the 3rd quarter to pull within two heading into the final period, and later, trailing by six, closed out the final 5:30 of the game on a 12-4 surge to win by two.
UDC freshman guard Daeja Quick, who led all scorers with 16 points, forced the 5th and final tie of the contest at 51-all as she made 1-of-2 at the foul line with 1:43 remaining, and following a Mercy missed layup at the other end, UDC had an opportunity to reclaim the lead around the one-minute mark. The Mavericks' Abigail Collier stepped in front of and intercepted a Mia-Alexis Lloyd pass, however, and following a timeout, Mercy scored the go-ahead bucket on a layup by Caralie Wilson on a designed clear-out play and drive to the hoop. A game-tying shot attempt by Quick near the buzzer rimmed out, and Mercy came away with its first ECC victory of the season.
Quick, who also registered six rebounds, a game-high four assists, two steals and a blocked shot, was aided offensively by two other freshmen Dana Harrington (nine points) and Mia Boyd (eight points). Sophomore Tyra Coombs had a career and game-high 13 rebounds to go with four points and two assists.
Mercy, which has now won each of the last three meetings between these two ECC foes going back to last season, featured two double-figure scorers today. Cynthia Perez shot 5-of-9 from the field and finished with 14 points, and Wilson, who shot a paltry 4-of-17 from the field, added 13 points, including the game-winning layup. Forward Latisha Clark hauled in a team-best 11 rebounds and contributed nine points as well.
Once again UDC started the game poorly, falling behind 7-0 – Mercy's largest lead of the day – as a result of three turnovers. A layup by Boyd a little over three minutes into the game got UDC on the board, and a three-pointer apiece by Mia-Alexis Lloyd and sophomore transfer guard Natalija Dubrovina later, and UDC managed to take a 12-11 lead at the end of the opening period.
The Firebirds then opened the 2nd quarter on a 4-0 run, claiming a five-point lead after a layup by Quick at the 7:35 mark. Later, three consecutive layups by Harrington enabled UDC to open up its largest lead of the first half, 23-17, but a 7-2 Mavericks march brought Mercy back within one, 25-24 with about a minute-and-a-half remaining. A three-pointer by Quick accounted for the final points of the half, and UDC took a four-point edge, 28-24, into halftime.
In the third quarter, UDC again scored the first four points, extending its lead to a game-high, eight points, 32-24. The Firebirds remained in front by eight with 4:10 remaining in the game, but a three-pointer by Mercy's Perez ignited a 9-3 surge by the Mavericks, who closed within two, 41-39 at the end of the period.
Two-and-a-half minutes into the 4th quarter, Clark's layup forced a 41-all tie, but Quick answered for UDC with three consecutive layups to put the Firebirds back on top by six, 47-41 with 5:40 remaining. Perez then quelled the Firebird momentum with a layup which was followed by five straight points by Wilson, including a three-pointer just past the four-minute mark which gave Mercy its first lead (48-47) since the opening period.
Twice down the stretch, UDC had opportunities to reclaim its lead at the foul line but could not take advantage. First, Harrington made the first of two free-throws to force a 48-all tie, but missed the second. Then, trailing 51-50 with 1:23 remaining, Quick missed her first and made her second to force a 51-all tie. Ultimately, Wilson scored the game-winning basket with 34 seconds remaining, as she scored seven of her 13 total points in final five minutes of regulation.
Next up, UDC will travel north to Amherst, NY to take on ECC foe Daemen College on Wednesday, January 10th with an early start time of 10 a.m.