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Second Half Struggles Continue as UDC Men’s Basketball Falls, 69-58 vs. Mercy

Olukanni led the Firebirds with 17 points.
Olukanni led the Firebirds with 17 points.

WASHINGTON, DC – The University of the District of Columbia men's basketball team was defeated, 69-58 vs. Mercy College in East Coast Conference play Saturday afternoon at UDC Gym.

Similar to UDC's 88-72 loss to Bridgeport three days ago, the Firebirds had a two-possession lead at halftime only to be out-scored by double-digits in the 2nd half. UDC (5-4, 0-2 ECC) led 35-29 at halftime today, but was on the wrong side of a 40-23 scoring disparity in the 2nd half and lost the game by 11.

Mercy, which held UDC to an abysmal 1-of-21 shooting from behind-the-arc, improved to 3-5 overall and 1-1 in the ECC.

The Firebirds had just two scorers in double-figures, with junior transfer guard Zachary Olukanni leading the way with 17 points on 8-of-12 from the field. Senior guard Quadire Truesdale was the only other UDC player in double-figures scoring, and he did so on 3-of-11 shooting from the field and 5-of-8 at the free-throw line.

Senior guard Kevin Cox led the team in rebounding with nine, and senior guard Danny Shand returned from a three-game absence due to injury and contributed a game-high five steals.

Mercy's Bryan Griffin was dominant in the paint today with game-highs of 21 points and 14 rebounds to go with two blocked shots. He shot 7-of-15 from the field and 7-of-9 from the foul line.

Forward Tawayne Anderson added 14 points and eight rebounds, and point guard Sal Barbetto pitched in 11 points.

The first half was very evenly played, with neither team ever taking a lead of more than six. UDC never trailed in the first half, though Mercy forced two ties. Olukanni led the Firebirds with seven points while Anderson paced the Mavericks with eight points. UDC had only half as many turnovers as Mercy (12-6) and shot 4-of-5 (80-percent) compared to Mercy's 1-of-6 (17-percent) at the free-throw line in the opening half. The Firebirds took a six-point lead into intermission.

Still a five-point UDC advantage six minutes into the 2nd half, the Mavericks managed to hold UDC scoreless for nearly 11 minutes while they ran off 20 straight points. During that stretch, the Firebirds shot 0-for-12 from the field and 0-for-4 at the foul line, and they committed five turnovers. Mercy transformed a five point deficit into a 15-point lead with 4:33 left to play, and the Mavericks coasted to an 11-point victory.

Next up, the Firebirds will welcome crosstown Division II rival Bowie St. University on Monday, December 10th at 7 p.m. for the Battle of the DMV.