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Late Dominican Charge Dooms District of Columbia

Kerry Kirkwood had a season-high 18 points and also registered eight rebounds and five assists.
Kerry Kirkwood had a season-high 18 points and also registered eight rebounds and five assists.

WASHINGTON, DC – The University of the District of Columbia men's basketball team was defeated in overtime, 87-84 by Dominican College in East Region non-conference play Saturday afternoon at UDC Gym.

The Firebirds (7-5) led by eight at halftime, they led by five with under five minutes in regulation, and they led by as many as six in overtime, but they could never put the visiting Chargers away.

Dominican (8-2), ranked 6th in the latest D2SIDA East Region poll, battled its way to a 6th straight win, including the 4th consecutive win on the road.

Junior transfer guard Kerry Kirkwood led five Firebirds in double-figures with a season-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field. He also grabbed eight rebounds and handed out a game-high five assists.

Freshman guard Juanye Colon was also a spark plug off the bench with a game-high five three pointers, as he finished with 17 points – his 5th double-figure scoring game this season.

Senior guard Kevin Cox had his 2nd consecutive and third double-double of the season with 13 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, and guards Danny Shand and Zachary Olukanni combined for 25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals.

The Chargers put three scorers in double-figures, led by a game-high 23-point effort by Ian Gardener. The 6-foot-5 senior forward shot 8-of-13 from the field and 7-of-10 at the line, and he also collected a team-best 10 rebounds.

While Gardener did all his scoring in the paint, guard Tavon Ginyard was deadly from the perimeter with 22 points on 6-of-12 FG shooting (4-for-8 from three-point range) and 6-of-7 from the line.Fellow backcourt mate Daniel Grant added 15 points and a team-best four assists.

Grant's layup just over two minutes in helped Dominican grab an early 7-2 advantage, and later, Ginyard's three-pointer just past the 13-minute mark gave the Chargers their largest lead of the half, 17-8. UDC began to fight its way back though, beginning with a Shand layup at the 12:26 mark. Shand's layup would kick off a 14-2 blitz by the Firebirds that featured two three-pointers by Colon, the 2nd of which put UDC in front, 22-19 just past the 10 minute mark.

Still just a two-point Firebirds lead (30-28) following a Gardener layup with under five minutes to play, UDC closed the half on an 8-2 burst, culminating in a Kirkwood three-pointer with 41 seconds remaining, and took their largest lead of the half, 38-30, into the intermission.

Kirkwood opened the scoring in the 2nd half with a jumper 20 seconds in, extending UDC's lead to double-figures, 40-30. Dominican countered with six consecutive points, but the Firebirds answered the next five to push their lead back up to nine, 45-36.

Still a nine-point UDC advantage after a layup by junior transfer forward Aaren Smith at the 16:32 mark, the Chargers embarked on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to two, 47-45. But once again, UDC had an answer – this time, a Colon three-pointer, followed later by a 1-of-2 trip at the line by Shand to put the Firebirds back up by six, 51-45.

Twice more in a span of about two minutes, Dominican closed within a one-possession game, only to have the Firebirds knock down a three-pointer to pad their lead. First, it was Colon again at the 12:35 mark, and later, it was Cox at the 11:21 mark.

UDC looked well on its way to a 3rd straight victory as Kirkwood scored eight consecutive points, including back-to-back three-pointers, and the Firebirds were in front, 65-56 with under nine minutes remaining in regulation.

A frantic run by the Chargers, however, would give them their first lead since the 7:25 mark of the first half. The visitors out-scored the hosts, 17-7 during a span of just over six minutes, and pulled in front, 73-72 on a Grant three-point shot at the 2:35 mark.

Later, Daraja Rodwell drew a UDC foul and made 1-of-2 at the line to make it a two-point game, and two-possessions later, Shand drove to the hoop and converted the game-tying layup with 52 seconds left.

Dominican's Charles Sayon had a chance to put the Chargers in front with 29 seconds left, but he missed both free throws. UDC had two players fighting each other for the rebound on the 2nd miss, and the end result was Dominican's Grant coming up with the offensive board to keep the possession alive.

The Chargers executed a play that resulted in a three-point shot in the corner by Ginyard, but his attempt was blocked by Kirkwood with 17 seconds remaining. Dominican inbounded the ball with 17 seconds left, but the UDC defense forced a shot clock violation with 2.7 seconds remaining. The Firebirds were unable to get a shot off on the ensuing possession, and the game went to overtime.

In the extra session, Grant opened the scoring with a pair of free throws to put Dominican up by two, 76-74. At that point, however, UDC went on an 8-0 surge, beginning with a three-pointer and a layup by Colon and culminating in a conventional three-point play by Kirkwood. Kirkwood's free-throw after his and-one layup put UDC ahead, 82-76 with 3:42 left to play.

But once again, the Chargers did not back down, slowly but surely cutting away at the six-point deficit. First, Gardener converted a fast-break layup after a steal by Ginyard at the 3:20 mark, and then he made 1-of-2 at the line at the 2:26 mark to make it a three-point game.

Then, following a missed layup by UDC, Ginyard converted a pair of free-throws to make it a one-point game, 82-81 with 1:55 remaining. The Firebirds would miss another shot on the ensuing possession, and Jonathan Garcia's layup gave the Chargers their first lead since the opening minute of overtime, 83-82.

UDC was held scoreless for 3:26 as the Firebirds shot 0-for-5 from the field with one turnover, and Dominican took charge with an 86-82 lead with 22 seconds remaining. Shand ultimately stopped the bleeding with a layup at the 16 second mark to make it a two-point game, and the Firebirds still had life after Ginyard only made 1-of-2 at the line with seven seconds remaining. Shand's three-point attempt at the buzzer to tie rimmed out though, and Dominican claimed a three-point victory.

In all, the two regional foes battled to five ties and eight lead changes. Dominican out-shot UDC 46-percent to 41-percent from the field, out-rebounded the Firebirds, 46-42, and it out-scored the hosts 50-36 in the paint and 52-30 in bench points.

UDC shot better from three-point range (11-of-30 to 6-of-21), and the Firebirds had four more assists (17-13) and three fewer turnovers (14-17).

Next up, UDC will enter back into conference play with a road game on Wednesday night in Sparkill, NY vs. the three-time defending East Coast Conference champion, St. Thomas Aquinas College. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.