The University of the District of Columbia's defense made Mount St. Mary's miss 66 percent of its shots and the Firebirds dominated the rebounding last night, cruising to a 79-66 triumph in a matchup of Division II powers at the UDC Physical Activity Center.
As usual, it was the Firebirds' Michael Britt (23 points) and Earl Jones (21) who did the most damage in sending Mount St. Mary's to it's fourth loss in 12 games. The national division runners-up last year never figured out what to do with Jones and Britt and fell behind soon after the game began.
Mount St. Mary's hardly helped itself, throwing up long jump shots from everywhere. Few of them fell in the face of UDC's tight, man-to-man pressure.
With Jones and Britt scoring, mostly inside, the Firebirds eased out to a 10-point advanatge, 34-24, with 4:55 left in the first half. In the last minutes before intermission, the Mountaineers missed nine shots; they trailed, 40-32, at the half.
"It was a big win for us," said Coach Wil Jones. "Our kids just played very well both offensively and defensively. Britt and Earl and Kenny Payne played great, but they got a lot of support."
Payne had 12 points and five assists and James Neal eight points and four rebounds for the winners.
The Mountaineers, who defeated the Firebirds by 24 points in their only previous meeting, two years ago, didn't play much better the second half. The long jumpers continued to bang off the the rim and Jones and Britt, who between them had 25 rebounds, were there to grab the misses.
"We shot like we were blind," the Mountaineers' Jim Phelan said. "We got the shots we wanted, but we could only hit 30 percent."
Mount St. Mary's got as close as seven points after two free throws by Angelo Frazier, but the rest of the game belonged to the running Firebirds.
Jones started an 18-6 spurt with a dunk and Payne and Britt each scored four points in the run as UDC roared out to a 60-41 advantage with 11 minutes to play.
"We didn't think of this as a real big game, but we wanted a win," said Jones, who blocked eight shots. "We concentrated more on defense because their offense has a lot of movement. My man was not that much of a scoring threat, so I just stayed back under the basket."
Mountaineer guard and captain Durrelle Lewis had a particularly bad game. The 5-foot-9 senior missed all 14 shots and had only four points, on free throws. Back court mate Dennis Dempsey was a little better, making three of 11 shots.
Mount St. Mary's tried desperately to keep up with UDC's fast break but, despite the Firebirds' 28 turnovers, the visitors could not. Britt's two-hand reverse dunk, off a perfect pass from Hawkeye Daniels, and his basket gave UDC a 64-44 lead with 8:27 to play and the game was over.
The Firebirds, winning their sixth straight, raised their record to 9-2. They are host to another Division II power, Elizabeth City State, tonight at 8.