Kenny Payne, the sometimes-forgotten man in the UDC lineup, scored three baskets in less than a minute in the second half as the Firebirds took control and went on to an 80-70 triumph over the University of Charleston last night at the UDC Physical Activity Center.
Payne, who finished with 17 points, costarred with Earl Jones, who scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half, and Michael Britt, who had 20, to help the Firebirds raise their record to 16-5.
Charleston (11-12), which took UDC to two overtimes before losing by six points last month, used the same deliberate offense last night in an attempt to stay close to the taller Firebirds.
The strategy worked for awhile. Jones committed three personal fouls in the first 15 minutes, which hindered UDC's aggressiveness on defense. Johnny Johnson worked his way inside for 11 points, and Charleston trailed by six at intermission.
Bill Henderson's 20-footer to open the second half pulled Charleston within four points, 33-29, and made many in the crowd of 2,230 somewhat nervous.
After a free throw by Britt, Payne went to work. The 6-foot guard, a transfer from Rutgers, made a nice pass to Jones for a layup. He then sank back-to-back 20-footers and scored on a breakaway to put UDC up, 42-31, with 14:30 to go.
"The other team left me open, and I was able to hit my jump shot," Payne said. "I just took what the defense gave me."
Jones and Britt then finished what Payne had started. Payne threw four passes inside to the 7-foot Jones, who scored all four times, his last basket a dunk to give the Firebirds a 65-47 advantage with six minutes remaining.
Coach Wil Jones, who celebrated his 50th career victory, used a man-to-man defense in combination with a two-three zone to stop Charleston's passing and cutting offense.
"I knew Charleston would use a pattern offense," Jones said. "I didn't take Earl out when he got in foul trouble, because he's good enough to play with three or four fouls. It didn't make much difference to him."
Even with Jones in foul trouble, Charleston continued to try long jump shots.