A spirited postseason run came to an end on Saturday night as the Wilmington University men's basketball team fell in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament Championship game, 77-68, to host Philadelphia at the Gallagher Center.
Already a record setting season coming into tonight's game, the Wildcats (11-20) set a program record with 11 overall wins while also winning its first postseason game in its NCAA era. Not only was tonight the program's first appearance in the CACC Tournament Championship match, Friday night was the program's first appearance in the CACC Tournament Semifinals.
The Wildcats attempted one final second half run, something the team has come to be known as in the 2014-15 season, the Wildcats cut as large as an 11-point second half deficit to as few as two points with 2:54 remaining in regulation.
The Rams (24-7), successful in defending its CACC Tournament crown from last season, answered the Wildcat run with a Derek Johnson three-pointer with 2:37 to play, going on a 9-1 run to take a 75-65 lead with 25 seconds left. The Wildcats had a pair of opportunities with two minutes left with two offensive rebounds, but couldn't find the bottom of the next with either putback. Shai Henry hit one of two from the foul like to cut the deficit to four before the Rams scored six straight on free throws to command the late lead.
The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game before the Rams scored seven straight to take an early 7-6 lead. Rashaun Rasheed gave the Wildcats their last lead of the game with a layup with 10:04 to play, putting the visitors up 22-21.
The Rams' TJ Huggins hit a jumper on the ensuing possession for the home team, which proved to be the last lead change of the night as the Rams went on to the victory. The Rams went into the halftime break leading, 39-32.
Philadelphia took its first double-digit lead with 16:46 to play in regulation after a Peter Alexi layup, 43-33. Alexis again hit a jumper with 9:48 remaining, giving the Rams their largest lead of the night, 54-43.
Still leading 61-50 with 7:52 to play, the Wildcats went on a 12-3 run of their own to cut the deficit to two, but couldn't get over the hump in the final moments.
The Wildcats had four players in double figures, led by Tyaire Ponzo-Meek with 18 points. Kevin Ohen, Tyrik Gass, and Henry added 14 points each with Henry coming off the bench and sparking the late game comeback. Valentino Thompson grabbed a team high nine rebounds while also dishing out a team high four assists.
Derek Johnson led the Rams with 22 points, hitting 4-of-7 from beyond the three-point arc. Alexis finished with a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds while Nick Schlitzer scored 15 points and Andre Gibbs added 11 points.