UDC moved a step closer to its first postseason playoff berth last night as Earl Jones and Mike Britt led the Firebirds over high-scoring Longwood, 99-70, before 1,300 at UDC's Physical Activity Center.
Ranked 10th in Division II, the Firebirds won their fourth straight game to improve to 17-5. UDC, looking for one of the four South Atlantic Region playoff berths, has three games remaining, against Morgan State, Lincoln (Pa.) and Fairmont State.
Longwood (15-6), the top-scoring team in Division II, averaging 89 points per game, came here hoping to catch the Firebirds a bit winded since UDC was playing its third game in five days. If anything, UDC ran even faster and shot better.
"We just happened to catch a red-hot team," said Longwood Coach Cal Luther, who will have to wait to get coaching win No. 300. "They have such unbelievable talent. We did a few things right early then they just . . . well, they're just a great team."
Luther wasn't as pleased with Coach Wil Jones, who had a few starters in long after this issue had been decided.
"I asked him why Earl Jones (32 points, 10 rebounds) and Mike Britt (23, eight) were still in the game so late. I know we beat him two years ago (95-66) and I guess he tried to stick it to us. But the worm has two heads; he won't always have two future NBA stars in his lineup."
Both Jones and Britt looked almost ready for the NBA. Jones had 16 points in the first half and Britt 11 as UDC overcame a slow start to hold a 42-28 lead at intermission.
Longwood was that close only because of the scoring of forwards Jerome Kersey and Ron Orr, who finished with 28 and 12 points, respectively.
"We knew they were a high-scoring team and we just concentrated on playing good defense," said Earl Jones, who also had five blocks. "We know we can score. Playing good defense is what keeps you in the game."