The University of the District of Columbia found the perfect opponent for its 1980 metropolitan area debut.
The Earl Jones-led Firebirds could do no wrong in the opening minutes of last night's contest against out-manned Lincoln (Pa.) and enjoyed a 114-84 frolic before 2,476 fans at the D.C. Armory Starplex.
The 6-foot-10, 200-pound Jones, who is expected to take UDC to the promised land, or to what is more appropriately called the NCAA Division II playoffs in March, was not a whirlwind offensively (21 points) but was a demon on defense. The freshman, who had picked up 26 fouls and fouled out of three of UDC's previous six games, was his usual intimidating self. He grabbed 13 rebounds, blocked five shots and made the smaller Lions change their shots all through the game.
"I don't foul that much," Jones said. "Maybe it was because the referees in the South were looking for me. I think I made a good debut. I didn't score a lot of points but I had a good game on defense. I've adjusted pretty good and the team will get better."
Last night, it was difficult to tell if the Firebirds were that good or the visitors were that bad. While the Lincoln defenders preoccupied themselves with watching Jones, UDC's other magician, 6-7 Mike Britt (29 points), scored 10 quick points for a 10-0 lead.
That was only the beginning of a long, frustrating night for the Lions (3-2). Eight straight misses (two swatted away by Jones) and five turnovers enabled UDC to streak ahead, 18-0, with 15:04 left in the first half.
By the time Lincoln's Rich Williams hit an off-balance 14-footer, UDC was well on its way to raising its season record to 4-3.
UDC Coach Wil Jones subbed frequently the first half, not to keep the score down, but to give all of his players some playing time.
"We made a few mistakes but the first unit was near-perfect," Jones said. "We needed a good start here and I thought we did fine. Our defense gave us that quick lead and we went from there."
Many of the fans came to see Jones and he didn't disappoint them. In one three-minute stretch of the first half, he hit two short jumpers from the side, grabbed three rebounds, blocked a shot and made a nice assist, UDC, which shot 50 percent from the field, led, 44-24, when Jones teased the crowd with one of his impressive dunk shots. Following a UDC miss, the lithe, agile Jones slipped inside, leaped high over his shorter defenders, palmed the ball in his left hand and jammed it through the hoop.
Jones, Britt and Kevin Montgomery (15 points) led another spurt in the final minutes of the first half and the red-hot Firebirds sauntered to the locker room, leading, 64-31.
Lincoln's Ron Gibson had 38 points but his baskets came far too slowly to affect the game. UDC led by as many as 55 points late in the second half, reaching the 100 mark on a tip-in by James Neal with nine minutes to play.