The University of the District of Columbia, on a jumper by freshman forward William Ortiz, broke a 63-63 tie with 2:19 remaining and then got some excellent free throw shooting from forward Lyndon DeBellotte to defeat Pace, 73-63, last night before only 100 spectators at UDC's Physical Activities Center.
The victory, UDC's third in the last four games, improved its record to 9-12. Pace is 5-16.
The Setters, who trailed by seven points in the second half, rallied in the final minutes when forward Emin Muhammed (game-high 22 points) and center Bruce Bechner (21) combined for eight points in a two-minute span to tie the score at 63.
After a UDC timeout, Ortiz (14 points) worked off a pick set by center Charles Cook and made a 20-foot jump shot to give the Firebirds the lead with 1:53 to play.
DeBellotte then converted four straight free throws to ice the victory.
"We didn't want to go into another overtime and suffer a defeat," said sophomore DeBellotte. "During the timeout, we planned for Ortiz to come off a pick and hit a jumper. The play worked and I'm glad."
UDC took its biggest lead of the first half, 20-12, behind the shooting of DeBellotte, who scored eight points in a six-minute span.
Pace rallied late in the half to regain the lead, 27-26, on Layne Fields' dunk with 2:05 remaining in the period.
But a jumper by DeBellotte and a layup by Ed Farmer (13 points) enabled UDC to regain the lead and close the half with a 30-27 advantage.
UDC opened a 37-31 margin on two straight jumpers by DeBellotte and a hook by Cook.
But the Setters didn't quit, scoring six straight points on a basket by Bechner and two by Muhammed to tie the score with 16:10 remaining in the game.
The leader changed five times before Ortiz and Cook made back-to-back baskets to give UDC a 49-45 edge with 13:30 remaining.
Nursing a 52-49 lead with 10:12 left, Farmer scored all the Firebirds' points in a 6-2 run to give the hosts a 58-51 advantage with 5:56 remaining.