Firebirds Lose Competitive Non-Conference Game at St. Rose, 61-54

Tyra Coombs had her 2nd career double-double of 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Tyra Coombs had her 2nd career double-double of 10 points and 15 rebounds.

ALBANY, NY – The University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team was defeated, 61-54 by The College of Saint Rose, in regional non-conference play Wednesday afternoon at Daniel P. Nolan Gymnasium.

UDC (3-7) never trailed by more than 10 points, and held the lead for a combined total of five minutes, including a 43-42 advantage partway through the 4th quarter.

St. Rose (8-4), which has now won six of its last seven games, earned its 4th consecutive win today courtesy of a pivotal 13-2 surge over an eight-minute span late in the 4th quarter.

Senior guard Natasha Roy led three Firebird scorers in double-figures with 13 points, sophomore guard Maya Thomas added 12 points and seven rebounds, and junior guard Tyra Coombs registered a double-double of 10 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. For Coombs, this marks her 3rd career double-figure rebounding game, and her 2nd career double-double.

The Golden Knights did their damage with just two scorers in double-figures – forward Karissa Birthwright and guard Ashley Vanderwall. Birthwright scored 15 of her game-high 17 points in the first half, including 11 in the opening quarter, and Vanderwall scored 13 of her 14-point total in the 4th quarter alone – matching the Firebirds' collective point total in the closing period.

Poor shooting hampered the Firebirds all day long, as UDC shot just 24-percent from the field and 23-percent from long range, and St. Rose, meanwhile, shot 36-percent from the field and 24-percent from behind-the-arc.

UDC managed to stay in the game for the majority of the contest by virtue of a 58-37 rebounding advantage and a deeper bench that out-scored the St. Rose's, 21-11.

The East Region foes battled to three ties within the first six minutes of regulation, but a 10-0 burst by the Golden Knights allowed them to open up a 10-point lead, 17-7 near the end of the first quarter. St. Rose would take a 17-9 lead heading into the 2nd quarter.

The Firebirds came out strong to start the 2nd quarter, however, as they out-scored their hosts, 15-5 over seven-and-a-half minutes and took their largest lead of the game, 24-22 following a Coombs jump shot. The Golden Knights closed out the quarter and the half on a 4-0 run though that included a pair of Birthwright free throws with an expired clock to put St. Rose up, 26-24 at intermission.

In the 3rd quarter, the two teams traded baskets early on, but it was the Golden Knights who claimed a seven-point lead, 36-29, on a 1-of-2 trip at the line by Vanderwall near the six-minute mark. A 12-4 response by the Firebirds helped them claim their first lead of the 2nd half, 41-40. Once again though, St. Rose scored the final points of the quarter, a jump shot by Nina Fedullo, to put the Golden Knights back on top, 42-41 heading into the final period.

Twelve seconds into the 4th quarter, Dana Harrington earned a trip to the foul line where she sank a pair of free-throws to give UDC what would be its final lead of the day, 43-42. Neither team would score for over two minutes, but a jump shot by Vanderwall at the 7:35 mark put St. Rose up for good. That jumper kicked off the game-defining, 13-2 surge by the hosts which ultimately put the game away. Vanderwall also capped off that run with a pair of free-throws, putting her team up, 55-45 with just under two minutes remaining. She shot 2-of-2 from the field and 8-of-8 at the foul line in the 4th quarter.

UDC never got any closer than seven points the rest of the way, as St. Rose went on to win, 61-54.

The Firebirds will now break for the winter holidays before returning to action on December 30th to host Virginia State University. Tip-off is at 2 p.m.