The University of the District of Columbia decided to forfeit 11 victories following the NCAA's decision to declare sophomore transfer Terrance Ball ineligible this season, but it didn't diminish the team's effort last night.
Combining a tough man-to-man defense and two first-half scoring spurts, the Firebirds built a big lead before settling for a 79-70 triumph over Winston-Salem State and its legendary coach Clarence (Big House) Gaines, before 1,320 at the UDC Physical Activities Center.
Because of the 11 forfeit losses, the impressive win last night gave the Firebirds only a 10-15 mark instead of a 21-4 record.
UDC Coach Wil Jones did not comment on the forfeits, preferring to talk about his team's second win over the Rams (14-11).
"We put in a new defense last week and we used it tonight," said Jones. "We hoped to use it in the playoffs, it may or may not help me now. The kids are good and can play. They executed and played well. We played relaxed and took it easy."
UDC trailed, 9-2, before the quick hands of Tony Harris (14 points) and Darryl Wilson (11) began forcing mistakes that were quickly turned into breakaway baskets. UDC pulled ahead temporarily afer a pair of free throws from Wilson made it 13-11.
Gaines, the second winningest coach in the college ranks with 783 victories, ordered his Rams to use a slower tempo in an effort to prevent the Firebirds from getting into the running game they prefer. It worked for a while, at least until the visitors regained the lead at 14-13 on a three-point play by Steve Hood (25) with 10:23 to play in the half.
UDC's pressure defense then turned the game around. Holding Winston-Salem without a field goal for nearly six minutes, UDC ran off 12 unanswered points to take a 25-14 lead. Wilson opened the spurt with a three-pointer and Lyndon DeBellotte (16) scored two baskets and made two free throws in the run. The UDC lead grew to 38-20 in the first half.
Catholic 83, St. Mary's (Md.) 81: Kenny Wills made a three-point shot with three seconds left in overtime to lift Catholic (15-6) to its 10th victory in its last 12 games last night in St. Mary's City, Md.
Shenandoah 100, Marymount 85: Tony Tucker made six of nine three-point shots and finished with 26 points to lead Shenandoah (11-13) at home. Marymount (10-9) was led by P.T. Gardner, who scored 32 points.
Norfolk State 60, Bowie State 52: James Walker scored 24 points to lead host Norfolk (18-5 overall, 13-4 in league) to a Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association victory in Norfolk. Bowie (3-21, 3-15) was led by Mike Sinclair, who had 15 points, and Keith Anderson, scored 13.