By Michael Otero
On Thursday, Jan. 29, the women’s basketball team (11-8) played host to the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) Firebirds (16-3). The East Coast Conference battle was a tale of two halves for the Pioneers, as their shortcomings in the first half proved too much to overcome in the end, losing 82-73.
The Firebirds came out with a lot of energy from the opening tip, which helped spark a 16-6 run by the visitors early on. The Firebirds kept their energy levels high, upped the tempo, and pushed their lead to 26-6 within the first ten minutes of the contest. The visitors played a consistent first half, playing suffocating defense along with getting out in transition and getting easy baskets. The Pioneers trailed 45-29 at the break.
As the second half rolled on, it was more of the same from the Pioneers. Lackluster defense and careless control of the basketball lead to a Firebird 20 point advantage on the scoreboard. With just under seven minutes remaining, the Green and Gold brought their intensity up and tightened up on the defensive end. The home side pressure led to a 19-5 run and brought them to a six points reach. With the score at 79-73 in favor of the Firebirds, it became a game of free throws down the stretch. The Firebirds nailed their shots from the charity stripe and earned the victory.
In the loss, junior center Nyasia Davis earned her third double-double of the season. She dropped 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Senior guard Chelsea Williams added 18 points and nine boards to her stat line, while senior guard Ashley Castle added 12 points, six assists, and three steals. For the Firebirds, junior guard Tajruba Baldwin-Kollore netted 17 points along with four assists. Fellow junior guard Shantrel Oliver added 14 points, five assists, and was perfect from the free-throw line.
As a team, the Pioneers were dominant down low, outscoring their opponents by 12 in the paint and hustling for loose balls to get second chance opportunities. Perhaps more significant, the Firebirds severely outscored LIU in points off turnovers, resulting in easier baskets and ultimately the win.
Head Coach Deirdre Moore and the Pioneers will look to bounce back today when the University of Bridgeport comes to Brookville, N.Y. for an ECC battle. The opening tip is slated for 5 p.m. from the Pratt Recreation Center.