NEW CASTLE, Del. - - With a chance to grab a hold of the fourth seed in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference South Division, the Wilmington University faltered down the stretch and saw Holy Family run away with a 63-52 victory on Tuesday night at the Pratt Center.
Leading by seven at halftime, Wilmington (10-14, 6-9 CACC) shot 8-for-39 in the second half, including 4-for-20 from three-point territory and watched Holy Family (12-11, 8-7 CACC) take a two-game lead for the fourth and final playoff spot in the South Division.
The Wildcats fought back from a seven point deficit early in the first half and eventually took their first lead on an Ed Freeman jumper from the baseline with 9:35 left to play. Now leading 15-14, that jumper propelled an 8-0 run to go ahead 21-14 with less than seven minutes remaining in the first half. The lead grew to as many as eight in the first 20 minutes, as Herbert Dennis hit one out of two of his free throws to take a 24-16 lead. The home team went into the halftime break up 29-22 after a jumper by Isiah mason was true at the one minute mark.
Again the lead grew to as large as eight on many occasions to open the second half, as Rashaun Rasheed, James Pee and Corye Payton all scored to answer every Tiger basket to hold the lead at its largest point.
Following Payton's three-pointer with 13:40 to play to put the 'Cats up 39-31, the Tigers responded with a 13-2 run of their own to take their first lead since the 10-minute mark of the first half. The go-ahead basket came off the hand of Alberto Munoz, who sank a three from the far corner. Rickie Crews extended the visitors lead to three with a pair of free throws before Pee came down the floor and tied it once again with his own three-pointer.
That would be the last time the Wildcats would come close to retaking the lead and taking charge in the standings.
Holy Family went on a 7-0 run to break the third tie of the game, and take control of the game. Munoz hit another daggering three-pointer during the run to see the visitors go ahead 51-44. The Wildcats would only get as close as five points from there on out.
Payton and Pee led the Wildcats on the offensive side of the ball as they finished with 19 and 16 points, respectively. Payton also led the effort on the glass, as he grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Dennis grabbed six boards and dished out six assists.
Munoz led the Tigers, scoring a game-high 24 points while also picking up a double-double with 14 rebounds. Crews finished with 14 points while Angel Ayala cleared the glass with 13 rebounds. Khiry Hankins chipped in 10 points as well for the visitors.
Holy Family outshot the Wildcats 42.9 percent to 29.4 percent. The Wildcats finished 20-for-68 from the floor, including 6-for-30 from beyond the arc. The Tigers shot 21-for49, including 6-for-21 from three-point land.
The Wildcats will help close down the Pratt Center with one more home game on Saturday against Post. The home crowd will have one more chance to offer a final farewell to the team's six seniors with its last home game. It will also be the final basketball game in the Pratt Center with the completion of the new gymnasium next season. The game is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.